The time is nearly upon Chelsea as they prepare for their biggest game of the season when they travel to Barcelona on Wednesday night for a crucial Champions League encounter.
The first leg against the Spanish giants finished in a 1-1 draw, with Lionel Messi grabbing a crucial away goal for his side.
Ahead of the eagerly anticipated showdown at the Nou Camp, here are five things to look out for:
#1 First goal crucial
If Chelsea concede the first goal then their backs will be firmly up against the wall. A goalless draw would not help Conte’s men because that would result in Barcelona progressing through to the next round on the away goals rule. Therefore, Chelsea would have to, at some point, try and hurt Barcelona’s backline by either completely going for it or, more realistically, sitting back and hitting them on the break.
#2 The next Torres?
Six years ago, Chelsea went to the Nou Camp to record a memorable 2-2 draw against Barcelona which helped them progress through to the Champions League final. Spain striker, Fernando Torres, scored an injury-time winner to seal the 3-2 aggregate win for his side despite John Terry being sent off. Fast forward to today and the Blues find themselves in a not too dissimilar situation, with the Stamford Bridge faithful looking for another Torres moment.
#3 Hazard, Giroud or both?
Olivier Giroud started only his second Premier League game when Chelsea narrowly beat Crystal Palace at the weekend. The Frenchman will be vying for another starting berth in midweek but will Conte be tempted to start Eden Hazard in a false number nine role? The Italian did just that during the first leg, with his side putting in a top quality performance if you put aside the costly mistake by Andreas Christiansen which led to Barca’s equaliser.
#4 Fabregas to start?
Since Conte joined Chelsea last season, Cesc Fabregas hasn’t always featured in his first-team plans, but the former Barcelona man could be selected to start in midweek. Tiemoue Bakayoko, who has struggled for form during this campaign, is another option for the Italian, but experience and the ability to keep the ball could be the way Conte goes. Chelsea will be defending for the majority of the game but they still need someone to play that killer pass from the middle of the park and Fabregas will do just that.
#5 Impact of results
Come Sunday evening, the last thing Conte will want is for his team to be knocked out of two competitions, with the Blues set to play Leicester City in the FA Cup at the weekend. That would no doubt be his nightmare scenario. There has been a lot of talk about Conte’s future at the club with many expecting him to leave this summer. However, with Chelsea sitting outside of the top four, two defeats this week could bring Conte’s exit a lot closer than people expect.