Predicted lineup: Antonio Conte plans to hand surprise start to January signing against Barcelona

william

It may be the end of the road for Chelsea, or merely a route to the dream destination. Chelsea will know their fate in Europe for not just this season, but also the season to come, with the Blues lying a lowly fifth on the Premier League standings with only eight games to the finish line.

Antonio Conte knows what is at stake and he knows one of the greatest tricks and tactics he has under his sleeve will be expected by his employers and also kill talk of his future, before the season ends. That is the huge yet tricky nature of the task at hand on Wednesday at the Camp Nou.

How Chelsea will shape up and line up will have a great telling on what the outcome of the game will be. What will make matters difficult for Conte and co. is how they managed to surrender a 1-0 lead to their opponents in the first leg of the tie, meaning a 2-2 draw or straight win are the only results the Blues can hope for to qualify.

So we try to get into the mid of the Italian tactician to see how he line up to stifle the life out of Barcelona’s attacks and also get the all important away goals.

Goalkeeper –

Thibaut Courtois:

As always Chelsea’s most dependable man between the sticks will be Courtois and barring any late injury, he will be in post against Barcelona.

Defenders – 

Cezar Azpilicueta:

One of the first names on Antonio Conte’s team sheet for games like these, Azpilicueta’s prowess as one of the most reliable defenders even when Chelsea do not play well makes him an important cog to this setup.

Andreas Christensen:

The young Dane has matured well in the last three years and come into this Chelsea setup to win a place over David Luiz. He made that mistake that cost Chelsea the lead at Stamford Bridge but his good form means that won’t count against him much.

Antonio Rudiger:

Rested in Chelsea’s game against Crystal Palace as Gary Cahill was brought in after several games missed, Rudiger has grown into life at Stamford Bridge well and which ever way the season ends for him, the Germany international will count it a good start to his Chelsea career.

Marcos Alonso:

The former Fiorentina flying wing back is Conte’s preferred choice at left back and will continue his role there. Emerson Palmieri has only just come in and will not give Alonso much fight until a full summer under his belt.

Victor Moses:

The Nigerian has looked out of place and form in recent times but will be started. Chelsea fans can only hope he improves his form in this crucial game.

N’Golo Kante:

His maruading runs in midfield and relentless energy that was seen in the first leg and throughout this season will be counted on by Conte and his teammates to clean up for them and help start rare attacks at a difficult ground.

Cesc Fabregas:

Conte will need Fabregas to launch counter attacks with decisive passes in the middle of the park while contributing his fair share to the defensive work.

Willian:

Who would not start this flying winger after that performance in the first leg? He took the game into his own hands and almost won it for Chelsea, if not for the two shots that struck the post aside from his goal.

Eden Hazard:

A main fixture for Chelsea and one of the star names to look out for in this game. Hazard can pull off some magic that would give Chelsea the crucial away goal they need.

Olivier Giroud:

Surprise surprise! Giroud could start and cause the Barcelona defense some amount of problems with his aerial ability if Chelsea go route one in a desperate search to get goals. Strong reports from Spain say he will start.