Chelsea will be significantly healthy when they host Barcelona Tuesday night in one of the two UEFA Champions League round of 16 blockbuster match-ups (Real Madrid vs Paris Saint-Germain is the other). Despite a solid level of fitness, the Blues are still heavy underdogs, as they welcome a La Liga dominating side that’s pretty much at full strength.
For the home team, defender David Luiz and midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko are both out with injury issues. Regarding Bakayoko, many Blues supporters will be happy they don’t have to watch the summer transfer window flop; probably.
Additionally, Ross Barkley will be sidelined due to a hamstring problem, but Marcos Alonso is expected to return after he missed the last two games. For Barca, defender extraordinaire Gerard Pique came back this past weekend after being out for a short spell. Expect him to start, while another defender, Thomas Vermaelen is a doubt.
The Blues will focus on trying to counter the intelligence of Andres Iniesta, and maintain prowess in stopping Lionel Messi. Chelsea have kept the galactico of galacticos scoreless in all eight meetings, a feat that no other club has accomplished.
Odds: Chelsea 5/2, Draw 12/5, Barcelona 21/20
Chelsea starting XI prediction: go to this link
Prediction: Barcelona 3, Chelsea 1
Feel free to post your own Chelsea and/or Barcelona starting XI predictions, as well as your best guess as to what the final score will be.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.
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