CHELSEA vs BARCELONA BETTING PREVIEW
Chelsea have been patchy since the start of the year. The Blues were on a two match losing streak (0-3 at home against Bournemouth and 4-1 at Watford) before to beat 3-0 West Brom in Premier League and 4-0 Hull City in FA Cup last weekend. The Blues currently sit 4th in the league standings with 53 points, sandwiched between Liverpool (54) and Tottenham (52). As to the Champions League, Chelsea were runners up to AS Roma in the group stage as the won only one of their home games, a comfortable trashing of Qarabag (6-0). Then, they drew 3-3 against Roma and 1-1 against Atletico Madrid.
Antonio Conte has few formation concerns. Tiemoue Bakayoko has been ruled out through injury, although Marcos Alonso should return. David Luiz and Ross Barkley are the other two possible missing players, but they are not regular starters. The Italian boss must make a decision on whether Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata start up front, with the Spaniard slightly favourite. Eden Hazard will start in the number ten role, with Danny Drinkwater, N'Golo Kantè and Cesc Fabregas in the middle of the park. Victor Moses and Alonso will be the wing backs, while the likes of Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen will feature from the off ahead of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Barcelona cruised through the group stage unbeaten with a W4-D2-L0 record, dropping points only in Turin against Juventus (0:0) and in Greece against Olympiakos (0-0). They have only lost one game all season. Ernesto Valverde's side have suffered a couple of stumbles in La Liga recently, drawing against the likes of Espanyol and Getafe but they currently have a 7 point commanding lead over Atletico Madrid in La Liga. The Blaugrana, who beat Eibar 0-2 at the weekend, have only conceded 2 goals in the last 9 outings in all competitions and are yet to conced away from home in this Champions League edition.
The Catalans have practically a fully fit squad, with Philippe Coutinho ineligible for the Champions League, Nelson Semedo suspended and Thomas Vermaelen the only injury doubt. Coutinho will be replaced by Ousmane Dembelè in the front trio, with Leo Messi and Luis Suarez obviously retaining their berth. The midfield trio will be probably formed by Ivan Rakitic, Sergi Busquets and Andres Iniesta, with Paulinho possible alternative (also for an more advanced prosition). In defense, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto will start as full back, with Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Piquè central defenders.
CHELSEA vs BARCELONA PROBABLE LINEUPS Chelsea (3-5-1-1): Courtois; Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta; Moses, Alonso, Drinkwater, Kantè, Fabregas; Hazard; Morata
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; S.Roberto, Piquè, Umtiti, J.Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Dembelè, Suarez, Messi
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50/1 A Goal in Chelsea v Barcelona
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