Chelsea boss Antonio Conte feels that his side can beat Barcelona in their Champions League last-16 clash, with the first leg taking place this Tuesday at Stamford Bridge.
Barcelona enter as heavy favourites
The Catalans giants are the overwhelming pre-tie favourites, considering that they are in good form and six points clear at the top of the La Liga standings, while the Blues’ performances have not exactly been impressive during recent times.
After losing two games to Bournemouth and Watford, Conte’s men now find themselves 19 points adrift of the league leaders Manchester City and face a difficult challenge to finish in the top four, considering that fifth-placed Tottenham have excelled in recent weeks.
With home advantage, Chelsea really have to win the first leg if they are to stand a chance of progressing; Barcelona very rarely lose at home.
Blues possess decent head-to-head record
Chelsea’s head-to-head record against Barcelona is decent. From 15 games, the Blues have won five, drawn five and lost the other five. The last time the two sides met was during the 2011-12 season, when Chelsea famously went on to win their one and only Champions League title to date.
During that season, the Blues managed to defeat Barcelona 1-0 at Stamford Bridge before drawing the second leg 2-2 at the Camp Nou. Another thing Conte’s men can take pride from is the fact that Lionel Messi has failed to score against them during any of the previous eight encounters he’s taken part in; this is the Argentine maestro’s worst record against any single club in football.
Although Conte admits that his charges will need to turn in a massive performance if they want to progress against the Spanish giants, he feels that the Blues could cause an upset if they manage to make the most of being in possession.
“We are speaking about one of the best teams in the world. We have to try to have the perfect game and to try to make the best decisions for this type of team,” the Italian said in his pre-match press conference earlier.
“This is a different opponent. They have a fantastic characteristic with the ball, but they can have a weakness without the ball and we must try to exploit this.”