Football fans across the world will be looking forward to Tuesday night as Barcelona travel to Chelsea in their Champions League Last 16 first-leg. The visitors are in imperious form this season and are the only side left in Europe’s top five leagues not to have lost a league match, while the Blues are fourth in the Premier League with a 19-point gap between them and league leaders Manchester City.
Despite the form of Barca, Antonio Rudiger has said that his teammates shouldn’t fear the challenge of one of the world’s best teams. He has claimed that they can recreate Real Madrid’s ability to put league struggles behind them and perform at the highest level in Europe.
“You can see Real Madrid haven’t been doing as well as they’re used to in the Spanish League, but in the Champions League, they did very well against Paris Saint-Germain,” the Germany international stated after his side’s 4-0 FA Cup win against Hull.
“Football is played out on the pitch for 90 minutes; it is not what happens before it starts. Anyone who has fear or something like that, should not play. My respect for them is good, but once the referee blows the whistle I will always try to win my games. Everyone needs to focus as a team.”
Rudiger has made four appearances in this term’s Champions League campaign, starting in the away matches against Qarabag and Roma and coming off the bench against both of those sides at home. He didn’t feature in either of the Atletico Madrid fixtures and isn’t expected to start on Tuesday night, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Gary Cahill more likely to get the nod in the back three.
If Chelsea’s summer signing does play against the La Liga front-runners, it won’t be his first meeting with them. During his time at Roma, he faced the five-time winners in the group stage of the 2015/16 competition and after a decent 1-1 draw at the Stadio Olimpico, the Italian side were annihilated at the Nou Camp. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez both helped themselves to braces in a 6-1 demolition. Blues fans will be hoping their new defender can put that behind him as they hope for a huge win at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.