Chelsea have had an up and down season, there’s no question of that. From a strong start, to an early wobble, then a promising run up to Christmas that lead into a devastating start to 2018, it’s been a rollercoaster for Blues fans.
One thing has been consistent however: since the draw was made for the Champions League knockout stages, this Tuesday’s game against Barcelona has been the most important game in the calendar.
Just a week ago it looked like Chelsea would arrive at the game as a flaming wreck, but two wins in a week against West Brom and Hull have given the team some confidence – and Antonio Conte some selection issues, as the coach himself admitted after the Hull game yesterday.
So the good news is that it’s not a foregone conclusion – even though the Chelsea v Barca betting odds you find online will show you that the Spanish side are still heavy favourites to go through.
Then again, they were favourites in 2012, when Chelsea beat them in the semi finals, and that didn’t stop the Blues going through and stunning the world.
Manager Conte has already spoken about how he intends to manage his squad during this hectic patch, with a huge game against Man United sandwiched between the two legs against Barcelona.
He rested his certain starters – Courtois, Azpi, Morata, Hazard, Kante – against Hull, and took players likely to play off early. The Blues also have the advantage of having played on Friday night while Barcelona played earlier today.
The confidence earned from such a comprehensive win can’t be underestimated either, as Conte pointed out:
“To win in the league, and then the FA Cup, was very important for our confidence, and to prepare in the right way for Barcelona.”
It will take more than just high spirits to take on Lionel Messi and co., but it’s not a bad starting point.
All in all, this is a talented Chelsea team who undoubtedly have enough spirit and ability to beat their old enemies. This up and down season still has a long way to go, but we will go a long way to knowing how it will conclude at the full time whistle on Tuesday night.