Can Chelsea overcome daunting task to silence brilliant Barcelona?

Chelsea knocks Barcelona out of the Champions League in 2012

Chelsea face a daunting battle when they take on Barcelona in their last 16 second-leg match at the Camp Nou on March 14. Can the Blues 
replicate their 2012 performance when they eliminated the Catalans in front of their home fans?

Ernesto Valverde's side enjoyed nearly 70 percent of the possession at Stamford Bridge, but lacked the penetration to open up the English side's well-organised defence.

Willian, after hitting the post twice, fired Chelsea ahead but in the 75th minute, Andreas Christensen played a loose pass and Andres Iniesta linked up with Lionel Messi, who slotted it past Thibaut Courtois – breaking his 730-minute goal drought against the Londoners.

The odds are stacked against Antonio Conte’s side as the Catalans have a valuable away goal, while they’ve conceded just seven goals on their ground in all comps this season. 

Most pundits have written off Chelsea’s chances, but the struggling Premier League champions have been in this position before.

In 2012, Chelsea – while sixth in the Premier League – defied the odds to win the UEFA Champions League. Before defeating Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena (the German side’s home ground) in the final, the Blues eliminated arguably the greatest ever Barcelona team that won everything possible under Pep Guardiola. 

That time they had world beaters in Petr Cech, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.

The big question is can Chelsea overcome the Spanish giants this time?

Well, the Blues are unbeaten in their last four visits to the Camp Nou and they’ve already beaten Spanish opposition in this season's competition.

Conte’s side took four points from their two Group C games against Atletico Madrid. They claimed a 2-1 victory at the Wanda Metropolitano, before drawing 1-1 at Stamford Bridge. 

Chelsea have lost only two of their last 21 matches against Spanish opponents, home and away (W7 D12).

The Blues have also won four of the six UEFA competition ties in which they drew the home first leg, most recently against Valencia in the 2006/07 round of 16 (1-1 home, 2-1 away). That was also their fourth tie in which they drew 1-1 at home first – and their third victory.

Conte believes his side can do something incredible and knock Barca out of the competition at the Camp Nou, but the Londoners will need a perfect performance as they witnessed in the first leg that near-perfect won’t be enough against the Catalans.

Conte will need to come up with a master plan to nullify the threat of Iniesta, Messi and Luis Suarez, while the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian and whether its Alvaro Morata, Olivier Giroud or Pedro, will need to be clinical in front of goal.

Anything can happen in football as we witnessed Leicester City defying odds of 5000/1 to win the Premier League title in the 2015/16 campaign. 

Blues fans, and I’m one of them, will be hoping Chelsea recreate the spirit of 2012 and reach the quarter-finals of the competition. They lost at this stage to Paris Saint-Germain in both 2014/15 and 2015/16. 

It will take a special performance to achieve their goal but even a diehard fan like me thinks the challenge is too great for this Chelsea side. 

Written by 
Chadley Nagel