It is the biggest game of Chelsea’s season so far as Antonio Conte’s side take on Barcelona in their last 16 Champions League tie at Stamford Bridge.
The London club will be looking for an early advantage in this first leg encounter against a Barcelona team who are on course to win the treble this term.
Here are the five key things to look out for in this hotly-anticipated match:
#1 Who starts up front?
Conte will have a big decision to make on whether he selects Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata up front against the Spanish giants. Giroud started and scored during the 4-0 FA Cup win against Hull City last Friday, with the out-of-form Morata coming off the bench. Morata has the better pedigree at this level and the Spaniard will be keen to play against his former rivals. On the other hand, Giroud moved to Stamford Bridge from the Emirates to earn extra game time and start crucial encounters such as this one. It’s up to you, Antonio.
#2 Hazard’s performance
Since the turn of the year, Chelsea have been knocked out of the League Cup at the hands of Arsenal and suffered a number of big defeats to Watford and Bournemouth in the Premier League. They have turned it around, to a certain extent, in recent weeks by winning back-to-back matches. During that time, Eden Hazard’s form has not dipped and the Belgian is in hot form going into this fixture. Conte will know that if his star man can turn it on then they will be in for a big chance of securing that important win.
#3 Will Messi’s goal drought continue?
One man Chelsea players and supporters will be fearing at Stamford Bridge will be Lionel Messi. A lot of pre-match discussions will be based around the Argentine, who has netted 27 goals in all competitions this term, including three strikes in the Champions League. However, Messi is yet to find the back of the net in eight matches against today’s opponents – his biggest goal drought against any opponent. So, today should be easy work for the Chelsea backline then?
#4 Suarez looking to make his mark
There will be a number of former Premier League players making their return to England on Tuesday night, one of whom is former Liverpool man Luis Suarez. The controversial striker isn’t well liked amongst the Stamford Bridge faithful, mainly down to him biting one of their former players during a league fixture many years ago. It is fair to say that the Uruguayan will get a hostile reception from the home support as he bids to make his mark in this season’s Champions League. Despite scoring 20 La Liga goals this term, Suarez is yet to score in the Champions League. Another mini goal drought from another Barcelona attacker? This should be easy.
#5 Christensen key for Chelsea
Regardless of whether Messi is yet to score against Chelsea or Suarez is yet to find the back of the net in the Champions League this season, both will be a huge threat to the London club. The Chelsea backline have had a tough time during this campaign and their toughest test is now here. Many would not have thought that Andreas Christensen would become such a key figure in that back three for Conte but the highly-rated youngster is key to the home side picking up a positive result.