Chelsea prepare for Barca test: preview
Here are the Chelsea star players in some rare and exclusive shots, getting ready for the arrival of the mighty Barcelona. This one promises to be a screamer and possibly this group of Chelsea players’ last chance of European glory.
Our latest behind the scenes collection – again courtesy of samsungfootball.co.uk – gives an insight into the lives of the players when they’re out of the media spotlight.
The pictures, taken by club photographer Darren Walsh and courtesy of Getty Images, show how the stars relax between matches and prepare for the big games with the Chelsea coaches and backroom staff.
Didier Drogba gets ready for biggest test against Barca
A nervous Petr Cech is cautious of Barca’s attack; is he really in full control?
Frank Lampard, John Terry and Petr Cech try to relax in private Chelsea jet
I don’t think this evening’s big game between Chelsea and Barcelona is an easy one to call. On one hand Chelsea face a Barcelona side boasting the world’s fiercest attack, fresh from an historic away win over the illustrious Real Madrid; on the other, you have a rejuvenated Chelsea team playing with new found confidence under the world’s greatest coach, in Gus Hiddink.
Will a resolute Chelsea defence hold out against the likes of Messi and Co. and use their physical prowess to their advantage? Or will Barca epitomise the modern day away team, destroying them with fast ruthless counter-attacks, just as they did at the weekend in the Bernabeu and United did last night against Arsenal. Given the circumstances, can they play like they have nothing to lose, dominate possession with their slick passing; playing with a freedom reminiscent of the great Spanish teams that have gone before them. We shall see.
The best form of defence for Chelsea maybe attack, as they face a weakened Barcelona defence, without Captain Puyol and the injured Marquez; which is vulnerable at its best. The key will be how ex-United starlet Gerard Piqué performs on the night. He was outstanding at the weekend for the Catalans – how he handles Drogba will have a massive bearing on things.
Another telling factor will be who comes in alongside the young Spaniard at the heart of the Barca defence: will it be Abidal from left back or the irrepressible midfielder, Yaya Toure? I would go with the latter and the more physical Toure. However, with Thierry Henry a huge doubt, Iniesta may revert to an attacking trio; which means Toure is needed in midfield alongside Xaxi and possibly young Keita. Or will we see the emergence of the precocious talents of either Sergi Busquets or Bojan Krkic? I’m sure Guardiola will keep Chelsea guessing until the last.
Messi will want to show what he can do after a relatively quiet first leg and a poor track record against English opposition. He may play more central this time as Eto’o and Iniesta look to confuse the Chelsea rearguard.
One thing’s for certain, this promises be a fascinating encounter, with the reward of a mouthwatering clash with Manchester United awaiting the winner in the final in Rome.
We cannot wait for this one.
The EFP Prediction: 3-1 Barcelona