Roberto di Matteo and his team must work out a way of beating FC Barcelona at Stamford Bridge, something which might not have looked at all possible two months ago although the Italian has galvanised the big egos in the Chelsea squad and Sunday’s 5-1 thrashing of Tottenham was the perfect way to warm up for this Champions League semi-final first leg.
The 4/1 (bet365 £200 free bets) about the Premier League side winning on Wednesday does look a huge price irrespective of whether Barcelona are the best club side in the world. Chelsea will still have home advantage and also big game players like Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard who perform to a high standard on a big stage.
Di Matteo will be tempted to play exactly the same XI that started against Spurs, with Drogba available at 9/1 (Bet Victor bookmaker) to score the first goal of the game, while Salomon Kalou and Juan Mata look like the preferred options on the flank despite Daniel Sturridge chomping at the bit to get involved.
Barcelona came from behind to win at Levante on Saturday and it means that the holders of this competition have won 13 of their last 14 matches, with the only failure to win coming recently at the San Siro when the teams played out a goalless draw.
Pep Guardiola’s side are 8/11 (Paddy Power free bets) to win at the Bridge on Wednesday and inch closer to the final at the Allianz Arena, although they will once again look to nullify their opponents and wait for the second leg at the Nou Camp to unleash their true attacking potential.
Barca clearly aren’t just about one player although it’s impossible to overlook the influence of Lionel Messi on the Spanish champions and the Argentine was on hand with a brace at Levante to take his tally to 63 goals this season, something which is absolutely incredible.
Messi has only failed to score in that Milan match out of the last 13 and is an attractive 11/4 (Sky Bet free bets) to score the first of this particular match while the bookies aren’t taking much of a chance with their Anytime Scorer price of 8/11 about the superstar finding the net at some stage.
Chelsea will be looking to deny their opponents the away goal and take any chances that come their way, with the Blues available at 14/1 to win by a solitary goal which would give them a fighting chance of lining up for the Champions League final.