Chelsea FC’s UEFA Champions League performances can be bettered by few clubs in recent years. In FC Barcelona, though, they come up against opponents of a currently peerless pedigree who have proved an irksome thorn in their side in previous campaigns.
Chelsea looked down and out after losing 3-1 at SSC Napoli in the first leg of their round of 16 tie in February, but have bounced back in style since parting company with manager André Villas-Boas
What: Chelseas host Barcelona, 1st Leg UEFA Champions League Semifinal
When: Wednesday, April 18 1:45 pm CST
Where: Live on FX Channel, coverage begins at 1:00pm CST.
A rematch of their meeting at this same stage in 2009, when the Blaugrana prevailed on away goals.
• For Barcelona this is their fifth straight semi-final as they look to become the first team since AC Milan in 1990 to win back-to-back European Cups. Chelsea are still in pursuit of their first continental crown going into their sixth semi-final in nine years.
• Barcelona will start as favourites but Chelsea have a 100% winning record at home in this term’s competition and are unbeaten in the clubs’ last five encounters.
The Guardian does offer Five reasons to give Chelsea hope against Barcelona. Their chances won’t be helped by the loss of David Luiz. A hamstring injury picked up on Sunday means that Brazilian centre-back David Luiz will miss both legs of Chelsea FC’s semi-final against FC Barcelona and faces two weeks out.
Barcelona defender Dani Alves has turned up the heat, claiming the Premier League side play with fear and lack courage. Chelsea’s goal against Barcelona is redemption not revenge.
Finally, here’s a nice in-depth story on Isaac Cuenca. The 20-year-old had provided Barcelona with exactly what Guardiola had been looking for at exactly the time he most needed it: width and intelligence. With and without the ball. Guardiola has always been especially keen on wingers playing right out on the touchline, going outside to create space inside, capable of delivering crosses and getting behind defenders but also of dragging defenders away from the passageways occupied by Leo Messi, making the right movement at the right time. Or, indeed, making no movement at all. Capable, in Guardiola’s own words, of getting out of the way. “Few players,” he insisted, “are so good at playing when they haven’t got the ball.”