PMB: Chelsea v Barcelona - talking points and numbers
news Tue 20 Feb 2018
Our run of three home games in three different competitions concludes with a mouth-watering tie with no shortage of tales to tell. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton recount a few of them and look forward here…
Chelsea versus Barcelona: one of those huge and enduring fixtures in international sport that rarely fails to deliver drama and spectacle. Anticipation of it is always tinged with tension as well as excitement, and perhaps the haunting shadows of games past have affected both sides’ form over recent weeks.
It is Essien’s volley, Ronaldinho’s samba-shot, Zola’s free-kick, Terry’s winner. It is Cole off the line, Messi off the bar, passion off the chart. It is Ramires’s chip, Iniesta’s heartbreaker, Drogba’s salvation. It is Ovrebo unmoved. It is against the post, against the form book, against all odds. It is 10 men and two goals down, then 2-2 and through. It is Torres scoring, Busquets collapsing. It is a Lampard shot from the byline, a view from the gods, and football from heaven – or hell.
On top of all that, this most eagerly anticipated match of the round of 16 also puts Eden Hazard and Lionel Messi on the same pitch for the first time since Belgium met Argentina four years ago.
The Liga leaders arrive having won three of their past nine away trips in the Champions League, losing four of those games and scoring six times compared with their opponents’ 13. The most recent two European trips, at Olympiacos and Juventus, ended 0-0, and they are on a run of one strike in five Champions League away games – an own-goal by Sporting Lisbon’s Sebastian Coates.
The champions of England, meantime, have lost once at the Bridge in 11 Champions League outings. The loss was against PSG at this stage of last season’s competition.
Chelsea are unbeaten against Barcelona over seven matches, since a defeat at Stamford Bridge in the 2005/06 round of 16.
In charge of Barcelona is former Olympiacos and Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde and his approach is different from that of Luis Enrique, who he succeeded in the summer. The new man’s tactics are less revolutionary, more flexible, with a balance between attacking and defending uppermost in his mind. He responds to the opposition’s strengths to the point of changing his team’s tactics accordingly, and it is working: he has just matched Pep Guardiola’s 2011 club record of 31 games unbeaten.
Like Antonio Conte, Valverde is also having to balance the demands of three major competitions. After the 0-0 draw with Getafe 10 days ago, long-serving midfielder Andres Iniesta, now 33, admitted the campaign was causing ‘wear and tear’ and that ‘something was missing’.
Valverde conceded at his press conference on Friday that Chelsea’s additional time for rest and preparation may have an influence. ‘It is more mental than physical – the weeks when you have four days rest you can manage better than three,’ he said.
‘We will have three before we take on Chelsea, and Chelsea will have four. That day extra, to have a break from the pressure of staying in the cup, is good to have.’
Nor does the intensity ease up for the Catalans after tonight. They must squeeze in five first-team matches (four league, one Catalunya Super Cup) before our decisive meeting at Camp Nou in three weeks’ time. Conte and co. will have had an extra day ahead of that one, too, and play three games, two fewer, over the same period.
Confidence will soar if another positive result can be notched up against the Blaugrana. The Londoners have won two and drawn five of our past seven against them, though of course Andres Iniesta’s last-minute equaliser at the Bridge secured their passage to the final in 2008/09.
Mention of that game is a reminder that each time this fixture emerges from the UEFA bowls, retired referee Tom Henning Ovrebo’s ears must start burning. In a recent interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, the Norwegian, now retired, admitted to ‘several errors’ that evening on up to four penalty decisions. ‘It was not my best day, really,’ he has confessed.
Unfortunately recriminations overshadowed Michael Essien’s stunning opening strike, one of the greatest ever at the Bridge by a Chelsea player, let alone on Europe’s biggest stage. Today, 20 February, was the birth date of two other Stamford Bridge legends, Jimmy Greaves and Peter Osgood, not to mention David Speedie, another crowd favourite. So which boy in blue will emulate those timely goalscorers tonight?
The team’s progress in the FA Cup means the league match at Turf Moor, already rescheduled for a 12.30pm kick off for TV coverage on Saturday 17 March, will now move again.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Under-19s continue their European campaign in the UEFA Youth League on Wednesday evening with a 7pm kick-off at Aldershot for the visit of Feyenoord, who were unbeaten during the group stage.
The Under-18s beat Tottenham 2-0 away in the FA Youth Cup and now travel to Fulham for the quarter-final on Tuesday 27 February, a 7.05pm kick-off at Craven Cottage.
Chelsea Ladies’ reward for trouncing Doncaster Rovers Belles 6-0 in the Women’s FA Cup is a trip to Liverpool Ladies in the quarter-finals.
THE BEST THAT CAN HAPPEN THIS EVENING…
Advantage Chelsea after another pulsating clash with the Catalans.
Other Champions League fixtures this week
Bayern Munich v Besiktas 7.45pm
Sevilla v Manchester United 7.45pm
Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma 7.45pm
CHELSEA IN NUMBERS
Chelsea’s record in the round of 16 is eight wins and four defeats. We lost at this stage to PSG in both 2014/15 and 2015/16.
The Blues have played 10 two-legged knockout ties against Spanish teams (four wins, six defeats), most recently in the 2013/14 Champions League semi-finals when we lost to Atletico Madrid.
This is only the third time Chelsea have been at home in the first leg of a round of 16 tie. The Blues won one and lost one of the previous two.
Fifteen players have now made their Chelsea debut this season, five of whom have come through the Academy. Against Hull, Emerson Palmieri and Kyle Scott became the 736th and 737th players to represent the club in competitive action.
Olivier Giroud became our 19th different scorer this term (including own-goals as one entry), equalling the 1996/97, 1999/00, 2003/04 and 2007/08 seasons. The club record is 21 in 2015/16.
Willy Caballero has saved five of the past eight penalties he has faced in all competitions (excluding shoot-outs).
Willian’s opening goal against Hull was timed at 106 seconds; our quickest in the FA Cup since Roberto Di Matteo’s 43-second effort in the 1997 final.
|Our Champions League record|
|Group pos||Round reached|
|2005/06||2nd||Round of 16|
|2009/10||1st||Round of 16|
|2014/15||1st||Round of 16|
|2015/16||1st||Round of 16|
|12 Sep||Qarabag (h)||W 6-0|
|27 Sep||Atletico Madrid (a)||W 2-1|
|18 Oct||Roma (h)||D 3-3|
|31 Oct||Roma (a)||L 0-3|
|22 Nov||Qarabag (a)||W 3-1|
|05 Dec||Atletico Madrid (h)||D 1-1|
|CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP C FINAL TABLE|
Chelsea’s past six games
24 January - Arsenal (a) - L 1-2
28 January - Newcastle (h) - W 3-0
31 January - Bournemouth (h) - L 0-3
5 February - Watford (a) - L 4-1
12 February - West Brom (h) - W 3-0
16 February - Hull City (h) - W 4-0
Hazard 15 (3 pens), Morata 12, Batshuayi 10, Willian 10 (1 pen), Alonso 7, Pedro 6, Bakayoko 3, Moses 3, Rudiger 3, Azpilicueta 2, David Luiz 2, Fabregas 2 (1 pen), Zappacosta 2, Drinkwater 1, Giroud 1, Kante 1, Kenedy 1, Musonda Jr 1, own goals 2
European games since
A home win: 2
A home draw: 0
A home defeat: 3
Chelsea's next three games
Manchester United v Chelsea
Sunday 25 February
Manchester City v Chelsea
Sunday 4 March
Chelsea v Crystal Palace
Saturday 10 March
Last Friday against Hull was our 850th game since Roman Abramovich took over the club in 2003.
BARCELONA IN NUMBERS
La Liga 24, last in 2016
Copa del Rey 29, last in 2017
Copa de la Liga 2, last in 1986
Supercopa de Espana 12, last in 2016
European Cup/Champions League 4, last in 2015
European Cup Winners’ Cup 4, last in 1997
UEFA Super Cup 4, last in 2015
Inter-Cities Fairs Cup 3, last in 1966
FIFA Club World Cup 3, last in 2015
Barcelona are bidding to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for a record-extending 11th year in a row.
The Blaugrana have made the round of 16 every year since 2004/05, winning 11 of the 13 ties. Their two defeats were against Chelsea in 2005 and Liverpool two years later.
Barça’s most recent trip to England, a 1-3 defeat at Manchester City, was in last season’s group stage.
The Catalans have won 13 of their 23 two-legged ties with English clubs, losing 10. Chelsea in 2012 is their only defeat over the past seven contests.
Barça have lost three of their past seven away games in the Champions League. They suffered a 0-4 defeat at PSG in last season’s round of 16 but won 6-1 in the second leg at Camp Nou.
They have the best defensive record in the Champions League this season, conceding one goal in six games.
Head Coach Ernesto Valverde
Days in charge: 265
Ten-year European record
|CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP D FINAL TABLE|
|Barcelona group-stage results|
|12 Sep||Juventus (h)||W 3-0|
|27 Sep||Sporting Lisbon (a)||W 1-0|
|18 Oct||Olympiacos (h)||W 3-1|
|31 Oct||Olympiacos (a)||D 0-0|
|22 Nov||Juventus (a)||D 0-0|
|05 Dec||Sporting Lisbon (h)||W 2-0|
Champions League scorers
Messi 3, Digne 1, Paco Alcacer 1, Rakitic 1, own goals 3
Champions League games since
An away win: 2
An away draw: 0
An away defeat: 3
On Saturday, Ernesto Valverde’s side beat Eibar 2-0 and have now gone 31 games unbeaten in La Liga, equalling their all-time longest unbeaten run set by Pep Guardiola in 2010/11.
Their team was (4–diamond–2): Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto (Semedo 90), Pique, Umiti, Jordi Alba; Busquets; Rakitic, Iniesta (c) (Coutinho 63); Paulinho (Vidal 74); Messi, Suarez. Scorers: Suarez 16, Jordi Alba 88.
|La Liga table top six|
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Cüneyt Çakır, his assistant referees and additional assistant referees, are from Turkey. He is a familiar figure, having been the official for the unforgettable 2-2 draw at Camp Nou in 2012, as well as our 2-1 group stage win this season at Wanda Metropolitano, Atletico Madrid’s first defeat in their new stadium.
Barcelona’s Nelson Semedo is suspended and Philippe Coutinho is cup-tied.
Up to the semi-finals stage, any player accruing three yellow cards will serve a one-match Champions League suspension.
Barcelona: Semedo 3, Digne 1, Gomes 1, Messi 1, Paulinho 1, Pique 1, Sergi Roberto 1, Vidal 1.
- Visit later for part two of the Briefing