Barça haven’t won their last five matches against Chelsea

Memory can be selective. Baras record against Chelsea isnt as successful as it would seem seeing that most recent memory in the Cul subconscious features Andrs Iniestas stoppage-time goal that gave FC Barcelona a ticket to the final of the Champions League in 2009. However, FC Barcelona havent beat the London side in their last five times attempts. The last Catalan victory over Chelsea was in the 2005/06 season, when FC Barcelona won their second ever Champions League title in Paris.

Here’s a snapshot of Baras last six matches against Chelsea:

VICTORY. Chelsea-FC Barcelona (1-2, February 21st, 2006). Terry, who scored an own goal, and Etoo overturned Mottas own goal. Chelsea finished with 10 players, Del Horno was sent off, and Bara came away with a vital victory.

DRAW. FC Barcelona-Chelsea (1-1, March 8th, 2006). Ronaldinho, close to the end of the match, secured passage for FC Barcelona to the next round of the tournament. Frank Lampard equalised in stoppage time through a penalty. The team would go on to claim the title against Arsenal in Paris.

DEFEAT. Chelsea-FC Barcelona (1-0, October 18th, 2006). Both teams met in the group stages of the Champions League. In London, Drogba won the three points for Chelsea.

DRAW. FC Barcelona-Chelsea (2-2, October 31st, 2006). It was a back-and-forth match at the Camp Nou. Lampard scored the equaliser in stoppage time. Both teams divvied up the points; Chelsea finished first in the group, FC Barcelona finished second.

DRAW. FC Barcelona-Chelsea (0-0, April 28th, 2009). In the away leg of the semifinals of the Champions League at the Camp Nou, FC Barcelona and Chelsea finished the match with a goalless draw. The Catalans deserved a bit more from the game.

DRAW. Chelsea-FC Barcelona (1-1, May 6th, 2009). Essien opened up the scoring in the first half with a sublime goal. The London side had Bara outnumbered on pitch for most of the game after ric Abidal was sent off. Andrs Iniesta, with a fantastic goal in stoppage time, earned his team a spot in the Champions League final in Rome.

Tottenham – Chelsea: The Blues qualify for the FA Cup final days before receiving Barça (1

To get the final of the FA Cup, the manager Roberto di Matteo sent out his usual starters. Didier Drogba was the man up front while Fernando Torres watched the from the bench, while Frank Lampard and Obi Mikel flanked Juan Mata, acting mediapunta. The first minutes of the London derby was marked by imprecision and a lack of goal scoring chances for both teams.

Halfway through the first half, after a magnificent counterattack led by Kalou, Mata nearly netter the first goal of the match but the opportunity was lost when the Spaniard, in an attempt to control Kalous pass, lost the ball. It was Chelseas first warning shot across Tottenhams bow. Tottenham responded immediately thereafter, but a providential John Terry cleared Van de Vaarts header off the goal line.

Minutes after being denied a goal, the Dutchman sent in a great cross for Adebayor. The Togolese footballer made a dummy for the ball and let it pass, Van de Vaarts cross crashed into the woodwork. Harry Redknapps team was letting Chelsea off the hook and they paid for it. Drogba, Chelseas most incisive footballer on the day, produced a sublime goal to give the Blues the lead. After a magnificent control, the striker skipped past Gallas and buried the ball into the back of Tottenhams net.

Chelsea kills the game off

At the start of the second half, Martin Atkinson controversially ruled that Mata had in fact scored an unclear goal. However, Gareth Bale got Tottenham on the board after Adebayor dribbled passed Cech. Chelsea came close to killing off the game with a couple of well executed counterattacks, but it was Ramires, 15 minutes from full time, brilliantly assisted by Mata, that restored Chelseas two-goal lead.

A majestically taken free kick from Lampard and a strike from Malouda put the definitive 1-5 on the scoreboard. The only bad news for Chelsea, looking forward to the Champions League match against FC Barcelona, is David Luiz injury. The player is doubtful for the clash with the Catalans.

Chelsea qualified for the final of the oldest football tournament in the world days before their Champions League semifinal match with FC Barcelona. Liverpool will be Chelseas opponent in the Cup final, which will be played on May 5th at Wembley.

Stats and facts from Barça’s 11th consecutive victory in La Liga

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, with 41 goals apiece, share the best scoring record in the history of the La Liga

– The Argentine has scored in 10 straight matches and he equals the all-time Bara record for goals scored in consecutive matches set by Mariano Martn and Ronaldo.

Iniesta played in his 400th official match for Bara, catching Alexanko.

Guardiola has won 50 matches away from the Camp Nou in La Liga as a manager.

– Baras ball possession at the Ciutat de Valncia was 72%.

– Bara shot on goal 16 times to Levantes 5.

– The visiting side only committed 6 fouls to the home sides 15.

– Messi (6) and Thiago (4) were the Bara players that shot on goal the most.

Mascherano (15) and Juanfran (13), were the players that won back the most balls.

– Thiago was the player that made the most passes, with 104, of them 98 were successful.

Focus switches to Chelsea

After the hard-fought win away to Levante, the players spent the night in Valencia before returning to Barcelona on Sunday morning. Immediately after touching down at Barcelona airport the players headed for the Clubs training grounds. A crowded schedule leaves no room to relax. On Wednesday, the reigning European champions face Chelsea in London and todays training session marked the start of the final countdown to the first leg of the CL semi-final.

Keita back with the main group

The players who took part in the win against Levante focussed on recovering tired muscles while the rest of the squad, including Seydou Keita, who rejoined the main group, worked out as usual. Afellay, who was recently cleared for a return to action by Club doctors though he did not make the trip to Valencia, took a full part in training today. Nine players from the reserve squad – Tello, Montoya, Masip, Carmona, Armando, Rosell, Sergi Gmez, Gustavo and Espinosa joined the seniors for todays workout.

The next training session will be held on Monday afternoon before the squad travels to London. The game between Chelsea and Bara will kick off at 8.45 pm on Wednesday.

Mascherano: "Chelsea first"

Messi and the squad

In answer to the question as to whether the team depends too much on Messis goals, Mascherano praised his fellow countrymans goal scoring talents but also pointed to the contribution of other team-mates: We know that we have a player who usually gives us at least a one goal or the final pass for other players. Messi makes the difference and having the best player in the world in your team means you tend to depend a bit on him because hes goal-hungry and its very possible that in any match he can be the deciding element. But you have to say that sometimes its the goals of Cesc, Xavi, Alexis or Iniesta that have kept us alive.

“We want to put the league out of our minds a bit and focus on Chelsea, because we have the chance of reaching the final of Europes top competition. Speaking at Sundays press conference, Javier Mascherano left no-on in any doubt as to the players attitude in a week that will be key to the Clubs aspirations both in Europe and in La Liga.

Not surprisingly, he emphasised that the result of Wednesdays match at Stamford Bridge will be vital in the outcome of the tie: Itll be a really difficult tie that will depend a lot on getting a good result in the first leg against a team that has always been characterised by their tremendous physical strength, and which has some really experienced players.

Wednesdays match first

“The main thing right now is Wednesdays match. Afterwards, well think about the league and Real Madrid. Were in a Champions League semi-final and we have a great opportunity to reach the final. It would be a really big mistake to focus on Real Madrid first, because Wednesdays match is very difficult and will go a long way to deciding the tie.

The Argentine international believes theres no room for error in any of the competitions at this stage of the season and is proud of the spirit shown by the players game after game, as demonstrated by the comeback against Levante: Faith is the last thing you lose and we have faith in what we can do. Then it depends, because you never know in football, but its important we have the right dynamic. Obviously the victory [against Levante] in the Ciutat de Valencia strengthens us, above all because we maintained the team spirit. Its alive and well and wont be beaten and keeps fighting against the odds.

However, by his own admission, Mascherano is not too keen to talk about the what ifs and so doesnt want to go into whether a win against Real Madrid on Saturday would bring the league title a little closer: We are all aware that even if we win all our matches in the league we still depend on other results. Real Madrid have a four-point lead and well have to see if were capable of beating them next weekend. Its not in our hands. But whats real right now is Wednesday, Stamford Bridge, Chelsea“.

The will to improve

Finally, Mascherano confirmed that hes happy about his current form: When you have a run in the side and you see that things are going well for the team then you improve individually as well. Im in a team that demands individual improvement. The fact is that each and every one of us has to give that little bit extra, the best we can, especially at this stage of the season.

Chelsea

A lot can happen in three years and the paths taken by FC Barcelona and Chelsea, rivals in this seasons Champions League semifinal, prove it. The English team have won four titles (Community Shield in 2009, the 2009/10 Premier League and the FA Cup in 2009 and 2010) since Andrs Iniestas goal at Stamford Bridge in the return lef of the 2009 Champions League semifinal. Bara, on the other hand, have claimed 13 titles.

Same group of players

The basic makeup of the teams, however, have changed very little over these three years. Most of the players that featured in Chelseas starting XI against Bara in the 2008/09 semifinal are still with the team. The only players that no longer continue with the Club are lex, Ballack and Anelka, while Cech, Bosingwa, Terry, Lampard, Cole, Malouda, Essien and Drogba are still part of the London-based team.

Of the 11 Bara players that played against Chelsea three years ago, 9 remain with the team. Only Tour and Etoo have left. In the 2009 semifinal, the average age of the squads, however, was fairly different: 28 years and 10 months for Chelsea and 25 years and 11 months for Bara.

Three managers since Hiddink

While Josep Guardiola continues to lead FC Barcelona, three different managers have graced the Chelsea bench since Guus Hiddink: Carlo Ancelotti (2009/11), Andr Villas-Boas (2011/12) and Roberto de Matteo, who started on the 4th of March.

Messi, 201 goals with Guardiola

His 201 goals

Season 2008/09
38 goals in 51 matches

Season2009/10
47 goalsin 53 matches

Season2010/11
53 goalsin 55 matches

Season2011/12
63 goalsin 51 matches

Leo Messis name tends to be on peoples lips before and after FC Barcelona play a match. Today is no exception. The Argentine genius has scored 201 goals with Josep Guardiola on the Bara bench. It took Messi only 4 seasons to accomplish this feat (210 official matches). Since Guardiola decided to position Messi closer to the oppositions goal, the Argentine has turned into a veritable goal-scoring machine, averaging 0.96 goals per game. With Rijkaard, under whom Messi made his debut on October 16 2004 against Espanyol, the striker scored 42 goals in 110 official matches (0.38 goals per game).

Constant progress

The best player in the world has consistently improved year after year. In his first season with Guardiola, 2008/09, he scored 38 goals in 51 official matches. In 2009/10, he scored 47 in 53 matches. Last season he scored 53 goals in 55 official matches. This year he already has 63 goals in 51 matches, averaging 1.2 goals per game. So far this season, hes scored 41 goals in the Liga, 14 in the Champions League, 2 in the Cup, 3 in the Spanish Super Cup, 1 in the European Super Cup and 2 in the Club World Cup.

With 63 goals already scored this season, Messi is a strong contender for a slew of new records: he is in the running to claim his second Pichichi title in the Liga, he could finish the season as the highest goal scorer in the Champions League for the fourth consecutive season, he is close to winning his second European Golden Shoe (formerly known as Golden Boot) award and hes only 5 goals back from Gerd Mllers historic record of 67 scored goals in one season.

Llevant – FC Barcelona: Confidence boosting fightback (1

The title race is still on as Bara chalked up yet another win to stay in touch with Real Madrid, who had earlier beaten Sporting 3-1, but it was hard work for Guardiolas men, who had to come back from one down after Barkero had scored a first half penalty to give the hosts the lead. Bara were unable to pull level until the hour mark, when Messi took over, firing n a left footed drive from the edge of the box and then hammering home a brilliant penalty after Cuenca had been bundled over in the box.

Attention now switches to Wednesdays Champions League semi-final against Chelsea, with the big one against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou next weekend on the horizon.

Early control

Bara began the game seven points adrift at the top, but they showed no nerves as they set about overcoming fifth placed Levante. With Alexis and Pedro both playing wide, there might not have been a natural target man up front, but Guardiolas team were soon carving out chances, as both Pedro and Messi tested Muna and Thiago had a couple of good headed chances. The visitors were in charge, but Levantes massed defence was always going to limit the clear chances on offer.

Barkero penalty

Levante were always going to be a danger on the break though and when once such speedy break resulted in a corner, the ref blew for a penalty after Busquets handled in the box and Barkero strode up to fire past Valdes and give his team the lead. In truth, Bara then found it hard to settle into their rhythm and looked a little slow as they tried to find their way through Levantes defence for the equaliser and found it hard to create too many chances before the break.

Messi leads the fightback

At the start of the second half, Guardiola brought on Cuenca for Xavi and soon after replaced Pedro with Iniesta as he looked to dominate in the middle and open up the flanks, particularly through Cuenca, who started the move that ended in Messis equaliser on the hour mark. The Argentinean played a quick one-two on the edge of the box and curled in a great shot to set up an exciting last half hour.

Messi seals the win

Cuenca was also key to the winning goal when he was bundled over by Bothelo as he ran on to a clever return pass from Cesc. Despite the home players protestations, the ref pointed to the spot and Messi hammered the penalty home high to the keepers left for the winner. There was no way that Bara were going to let such a hard won lead slip and they controlled the game as the clock ran down to take the three point.

Guardiola: “Levante are one of the worst teams to have to fight back against"

Cardoner: We have a winning Bara

The FC Barcelona Social Area vice president said that the attitude displayed by the players after conceding the goal against Levante fills him with pride and that we have a winning Bara. He added, in the end the team proves it. Jordi Cardoner, who congratulated Levante for their attitude in tonights match, is especially satisfied with the fact that Bara have once again shown that they are capable of fighting back after conceding a goal. For the vice president, the penalties that were called at the Ciutat de Valncia were no decisive.

Thinking ahead to Baras upcoming La Liga match, the Clsico, which will be played on Saturday at the Camp Nou, Cardoner is clear that it will be a match that will win new fans over. He added I understand that nothing is said and done in La Liga until the end of the season. Lastly, in the name of FC Barcelona, the vice president offered his sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Morisini.

Bara won three valuable points at the Ciutat de Valncia to keep their La Liga title hopes alive. The team was forced to fight back from a one goal deficit against one of the teams, according to Josep Guardiola, that are one of the worst to fight back against. In the end, Bara managed to win the match 1-2, to which Guardiola said it keeps us in it, in reference to the battle with Real Madrid for the top spot of La Liga.

The manager highlighted the qualities of Baras rival: they are one of the worst team to have to fight back against. They are very well organized on defence, they have players with a lot of experience. Furthermore, theyre fantastic on the counter. After the first goal, they went back [in their own half] to defend the result. Its clear that Levante have made it to where they are now because theyve done a good job.

On how the game played out, the manager said that in the second half we opened up the field. Our objective was to score the 0-1, but after conceding a goal, we had to change some things up to win the match. Cuenca gave us amplitude. Playing a goal down against these types of teams is very complicated, and if you lose the ball they kill you. We tried to attack with everything we had and in the end we managed to get a result that keeps us in it.

First, Chelsea

Even though a lot of the attention is now on next weekends Clsico at the Camp Nou, Guardiola said that hes more eager to face Chelsea: I dont have the strength to think about it [the match against Madrid]. We have to focus on Chelsea, its a Champions League semifinal.

Its a little less impossible

He did say that the match against Madrid will be marked by the power of a team that have only lost two matches in the Liga and he anticipates a terribly difficult match. He added, if they win, its over. Well see how we come into the match. Well have to play a very good game to beat them. On Baras chances of retaining the Liga title, Guardiola said that its a little less impossible.

Messi: "It was a very difficult ground to play in, but we managed to get a fantastic result"

Training session on Sunday

Bara will hold a closed-door training session this Sunday at 12:30 at the Ciutat Esportica Sant Joan Desp. Javier Mascherano will hold a post-training press conference.

Vital victory at the Ciutat de Valncia (1-2) which allows Bara to maintain the four-point gap with Real Madrid at the top of the table. After the match, Lionel Messi, with two goals, said he was very happy to win the three points against this seasons surprise team. We knew it was a difficult ground, Levante are having a fantastic season and we managed to get a great result, said Messi while walking off the pitch.

However, the Argentine highlighted the difficulty of taking on Juan Ignacio Martnezs side: at this point in the season every team is playing for something important. These matches are very complicated.

On form and headed to London

After securing Baras 11th consecutive victory in La Liga, Messi congratulated his teammates for keeping the winning streak alive. We have to continue like this, said the Argentine, now its time to think about Chelsea, this is the most important match. It will be more difficult than the match against Levante.

La Liga goal-scoring rivalry

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have made history in La Liga as they are both level on top of the goal scoring chart. Both players, with 41 goals apiece, have shattered the previous record in their struggle to win the Pichichi award. Despite the ongoing duel, Messi highlighted the importance of the teams success ahead of his own: things are going well for us, but whats really important is that were both fighting for La Liga title.

Im happy that I scored because the team won, concluded Messi as he walked down the tunnel that leads to the dressing rooms.

Here are the statements made by FC Barcelona players after tonights match against Levante:

Vctor Valds:

Very hard-fought victory. Im proud of the work that we did. I congratulate Levante for how they played, they are a very good team.

Pedro Rodrguez:

It was a very difficult match, we knew that it was a complicated ground to play in. They had the early advantage but we managed to fight back.

We dominated the whole match. After the penalty against us it was more difficult because they closed themselves off and their defence is very strong. For this reason it was so difficult to mount a comeback, but our insistence to play on the wings allowed the team to fight back. Were very pleased.

Were facing a very difficult week. Well work hard and prepare for our upcoming matches.

It was hard to reduce the gap with Real Madrid. Well try to prepare for next Saturday’s match well to keep our title hopes alive in La Liga. The Clsico is important to both us and them.

Cesc Fbregas:

Its clear that we can improve. It was a very difficult match but we managed it well.

Weve gained a lot of ground on Madrid. We went to the Vicente Caldern with a 13-point disadvantage and now were only 4 away. Despite it all, now its time to focus on Chelsea and forget about La Liga for a couple of days.

This was one of our most difficult away matches, but we still have a few tough matches away from home. La Liga is still out of our hands. We wont depend on ourselves even if we beat Real Madrid. There are a few matches left but the end of La Liga is still a long way off.

Bara have a great fighting spirit, were very competitive.

Thiago Alcntara:

We stopped thinking about the Liga in the second half. We gave it our all and we can now enjoy one of our most difficult victories.

This is a very complicated stadium to play in, Levante are a fantastic team.

Im willing to play in any position. The objective is to always look for the win.

The Clubs philosophy is incredible. Its a joy for us youngsters, we have to be thankful to the Club for giving us confidence.

Chelsea is a very complicated rival, theyre a historic European club. It will be a beautiful playoff.

Isaac Cuenca:

It was fairly difficult, but we knew that what we were facing when we went up against Levante. It was complicated because they let us have the wings but it was hard to get good crosses in. In the end everything worked out and we won the three points.

I believe it was a penalty, I was pushed and the linesman saw it and the referee called it.

Were going to give it our all in London to get a good result for the return leg at the Camp Nou.