Barcelona and Chelsea have some pretty interesting Champions League history. But this matchup may take the cake for the most fascinating of them yet. There’s plenty to analyze with both teams going into this matchup, but we’re going to take a deeper look at Chelsea FC.
Mainly what their current run of form is and what a successful Chelsea game would have to look like.
Chelsea’s recent run of games has been somewhat strange. They’ve won their last two games, against West Brom and Hull City, two somewhat suspect opponents. However, before those two wins Chelsea had lost three of their last four. Including combined 7-1 losses to Watford and Bournemouth.
The main story surrounding Chelsea over the last period of time has been whether or not Antonio Conte would still have his job by the time this game came around. Due to winning games both against lowly West Brom and Hull he’s “saved” his job for now, but Barcelona may have something to say about that.
In a vacuum Eden Hazard is still one of the better players in the world. The worst case scenario for Barcelona is that Eden Hazard has one of his games where people start talking about him being one of the best three players in the world. The last couple of seasons have been that way for Hazard. He has games in which he’s world class and unstoppable, then there are games where you wonder if he pulled a hamstring.
The best case scenario for Chelsea to grab a win against Barcelona is that N’Golo Kante has the game of his life against Lionel Messi and the Barcelona attack. You’ll never render Messi completely useless, but at his best Kante has the ability to mess with Barcelona’s attacking maestro in ways that few can.
A Kante super performance in link with a Hazard masterpiece could be the key for Chelsea to have a successful game against Barcelona.
Hmm, dilemma ahead!
Argentina’s football president Claudio Tapia has said he’s asked Lionel Messi to play less for Barcelona in order to be fresher for the World Cup this summer.
“I hope that all the players will have the same form that they are in at the moment,” Tapia explained.
”Sergio Aguero is playing fantastically and Lionel Messi is always strong.
”This is important for the coaches and directors, we spoke with Messi for him to look after himself and play less at Barcelona.”
Claudio Tapia | Source
Something tells me that as the Champions League and La Liga heat up in the coming months one of the main Barcelona pieces will be Lionel Messi. As much as it would be nice for Argentina to have Messi play 45 minutes each game, that just isn’t going to happen.
Why it benefits anyone to make this public is beyond me. Perhaps it will relieve pressure off of Lionel Messi and Argentina come World Cup time, but either way it puts both parties in a strange situation.
One of the strange, yet somewhat appealing, transfer rumors that almost came to fruition last summer was Angel Di Maria moving from PSG to Barcelona.
The move itself would have been pretty benficial for both sides. Barcelona were potentially getting a really good winger at a decent price, due to his age, and Di Maria would get to move back to La Liga.
The 29-year-old has now admitted that a move to Camp Nou was on the agenda over the summer and that he almost signed for the club.
“I was very close to joining Barcelona,” he said.
”Unfortunately, there are things in football that made it impossible.”
Angel Di Maria | Source
The move ended up not happening, and now with Philippe Coutinho at Barcelona the need for a Di Maria has waned.
Rotation players are always needed so perhaps in the summer Barcelona might return for Di Maria at a cheap price, but until then, it seems that it was a case of so close yet so far.
In a season that was initially defined by low expectations and plenty of question marks, what will define a successful season for Barcelona once they hang up their boots this summer? There will be different answers for what different individuals care about, so my opinion may not be the same as yours.
Here’s where Barcelona are today: a large lead in La Liga, about to play a floundering Chelsea in the Champions League, and a game away from the Copa del Rey final. During the odd transfer window that was this summer, many would have taken this progress midway through the season.
In a vacuum their progress in each tournament/league is extraordinary. A larger than life lead in La Liga isn’t something that happens often this early in the season. Especially when also competing near the top of the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.
What’s made this Barcelona season even more impressive is how they’ve juggled competing in these three competitions so flawlessly even through injuries. So far in this season, Barcelona have far exceeded even lofty expectations. How they finish the Champions League and La Liga will define their season long term, they’ll need to come away with one trophy from those two competitions.
But in looking at this season specifically I would dare to say that a trophy isn’t needed to validate the impressive turn around and progress we’ve seen from the club. At the beginning of the season it appeared that Real Madrid were setup for a reign of success in La Liga and in Europe that Barcelona wouldn’t be able to match. But just half a year later, Barcelona have put themselves in the driver’s seat in both domestic competitions and in Europe.
Finishing the season with one trophy in either La Liga or the Champions League would be enough to validate a successful season for Barcelona in my mind. But trophies aside, Barcelona have advanced through some tough times in the last 12 months, and how they’re reacting on the pitch has been magnificent.
Barcelona vice-president’s Jordi Mestre sat down with Sport for an interview recently. The topics ranged from Neymar to La Masia, back to summer transfer sales and more.
One of the more interesting bits is the news that once again this summer’s transfer amount it fixed. Mestre was asked how much money the club would have to spend in the summer.
“Every year we have the same amount. 60 million plus sales.”
With Antoine Griezmann’s release clause dropping this summer it appears that if Barcelona wish to pursue him or any other high price players they’ll be forced to sell first in order to fund any large transfer.
Mestre was also asked if the club was frustrated about the transfer of Neymar.
“What hurt me the most was the way it happened. We were all on tour talking with him and his father, and they were not transparent.
“If he came to us and said, I want to go, like Cesc, Pedro, Alexis, Mascherano did, we would have reached an agreement. What you can’t do is rock the boat.”
Of course it was Mestre who famously said he was “200%” sure Neymar would stay at Camp Nou just weeks before the Brazilian left for Paris Saint-Germain.
Barcelona have long been interested in Gremio midfielder Arthur. So interested in fact that the Gremio player was pictured wearing a Barcelona jersey after meeting with the club late last year.
But any potential move is reportedly on hold until at least next January. Gremio club president Romildo Bolzan Jr. made it pretty clear that the negotiations have stopped for the foreseeable future.
“At this moment it’s [transfer talks] stopped,” Bolzan told UOL Esporte. “But I can tell you that all the ideas are Arthur will stay with us until December.
“All parties agree that it is more or less agreed that Arthur will stay until the end of 2018 if the negotiations are completed. I repeat, if they are completed.”
Romildo Bolzan Jr. | Source
It seems that Bolzan is no rush to let Arthur leave, even though he has a reported €50 million release clause. It seems that even if Barcelona can agree a deal it may still be some time before the Brazilian arrives at Camp Nou.
La Liga chief Javier Tebas said in an interview with reporters that VAR could have changed the Barcelona vs. Alaves match on Sunday. He also confirmed that VAR would be coming next year to the league.
Alaves were frustated after the game that a late handball appeal on Samuel Umtiti was unsuccessful, and there were also complaints about an offside before Lionel Messi’s free kick winner.
Meanwhile, Luis Suarez has said he should have been given a penalty in the first half and Tebas said VAR would have changed the game.
“Next season there will be VAR,” he said.
”We are doing our best and we will ensure it arrives on time.
”With the VAR, some moments in the Barcelona and Alaves game, for example, would’ve changed.”
Javier Tebas | Source
VAR will be a fascinating addition to La Liga, particularly as there have been so many high-profile controversial incidents in recent season.
Side note, in the same interview Tebas said that he would like Neymar to return to Spain eventually.
“I would like Neymar to return to Spanish football yes,”
Javier Tebas | Source
So there’s that, take it as you will.
It’s always been an interesting topic of conversation discussing how Lionel Messi will spend his post-Barcelona football career. While Barcelona fans hope there is no such thing as a post-Barcelona Lionel Messi, there always remains hope for other clubs around the world as long as he’s playing.
In reality, most think Messi will return to Argentina if he is to play for any club other than Barcelona at all. Getting to play a few years at his boyhood club would be a pretty wonderful storybook ending for one of the greatest players of all time.
If there are any other options for Messi other than retiring a Barcelona player or returning to Argentina to play, the only somewhat feasible option was Messi heading to MLS to play out a couple of seasons.
That reality was given a little hint of life when Messi made a video congratulating David Beckham on his new Miami MLS club in a recent video.
“Hi David, first of all congratulations, I hope all goes well with the new project, in this new step you are taking and who knows, in a few years maybe you will give me a call,”
Lionel Messi | Source
Athletes enjoy congratulating other athletes and joke about playing with each other. Who knows if Messi would even consider it, but since it’s Lionel Messi and David Beckham, it’s at the very least interesting.
Everyone knows how good Lionel Messi is. The man has accomplished almost anything an individual player can accomplish and does so in a wonderful orchestra of class and skill.
This season, Messi is having another amazing individual season, scoring 20 goals in La Liga so far. But what is perhaps even more amazing is that he’s had the unfortunate luck of hitting the woodwork 13 times so far this season.
That’s amazing. Had the ball gone another few centimeters in one direction, Messi may have over 30 goals in the league already.
The Argentine has been on point this season. The precision in which his shots are careening toward the goal has been amazing and should his current progress continue, he may reach a new height for nailing the crossbar.
Bayern Munich made a move this transfer window for Leon Goretzka, the young German midfielder who has been turning heads. Goretzka will move to Bayern Munich at the end of the current season from Schalke.
The deal was significant because it kept one of the best young Germans in the German domestic league. But what came to light was just how worried Bayern were about Barcelona sneaking in and having a go at the youngster.
Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge discussed the concern and what it would have meant for German football.
“If we had not signed Leon, he would have very likely signed for Barcelona,” he said. “In general, that cannot be [good] on behalf of German football.”
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge | Goal
Barca weren’t the only club in for Goretzka, but it seems as if the club did have a decent shot of landing him this winter.