Sky Sports pundit Guillem Balague says Messi’s presence makes Barcelona favorites to go through in Barcelona’s crunch match against Chelsea at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona’s talisman Lionel Messi has looked rejuvenated this season. Flourishing in a more deeper role, Messi is still evolving at the ripe old age of 30. Give a free role, the Argentine tends to pick the ball from deep this season, often linking up with the likes of Iniesta and Rakitic. The 30 year old Argentina international is one of the main reasons why Barcelona haven’t felt Neymar absence in their side.
The Messi-Suarez combination has been deadly for Barcelona this season. Together they have scored or assisted 82 goals in all competitions this season. To put that into perspective, the entire Real Madrid squad has scored 100 goals in the three competitions that both the clubs have competed in.
The clash with Chelsea at Stanford Bridge saw Messi finally break his duck against the Londoners. Having failed to score in the previous 8 meetings against them. The 5-time Balon d’Or winner was not included in the squad that faced Las Palmas at the weekend so that he could be there to witness the birth of his third son Ciro. Just to put this into context, Messi has scored in the match following the births of his previous two sons.
In an article for Sky Sports, the La Liga expert went on to say “Lionel Messi is growing as player, not just as a goalscorer, and he understands what is required in every part of the pitch and every stage of the game. The Argentina international has appeared when he is needed this season, especially in the big games, so the Catalans have a strong chance of progressing.
However, Chelsea will have their moments, and it remains to be seen whether they take it. But Chelsea will have to be clinical, more than they were at Stamford Bridge, to take the two or three chances that come their way in order to progress because Barca will create more than they did in London.”
Iniesta’s inclusion in the squad is a big boost for the Catalan side and with Dembele performing well in the previous match, should also get the nod against the Blues.
Barcelona will have to take the game to Chelsea if they want to prevent a repeat of what happened last time the two sides faced off at Barcelona. An early goal for the Blaugrana side should be enough to see them through. The fans will certainly play their part in making the atmosphere as hostile as possible.