Marcha 18, 2018

Chelsea performance almost perfect for Conte — After Barcelona draw

25 Febrero 2018, 02:43 | Fidele Alvizo

Rakitic You don't see Messi in the gym much

Rakitic You don't see Messi in the gym much

CHELSEA fans sing a song about winger Willian and his supposed hatred of Tottenham. The three clubs have won six of the last seven Champions League titles.

After scoring 28 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions this term, Messi now has 535 goals in 601 competitive fixtures for his club, with the bulk of his scoring predictably against La Liga opponents. But thank God I've been evolving more and more, and reaching higher levels, that's what I want.

Barcelona did not give up though.

Yet, PSG had two-time defending champions Real on the ropes. Planning to play out of possession and strike on the counter-attack, he needed players who could break out quickly.

'That is not really playing to my qualities.

Conte chose to play Eden Hazard as a false-nine instead of the presumably less-than-fully-fit Alvaro Morata or Olivier Giroud. Chelsea may have a daunting task ahead of them at the Camp Nou, but they will have seen nothing here to scare them.

Hazard played well in his side's 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the Champions League knockout round first leg but his performance might have summed up his time in west London. It was never supposed to be the other way around. Guardiola embraces talented individuals and designs his teams to get the best out of his attackers. One pass forwards, two passes back.

"In 15 days we must be prepared for another game against Barcelona".

Were Barcelona being pretty or were they being pragmatic? Andres Iniesta gave the ball away uncharacteristically easily. Sergi Roberto hashed a clearance.

"You are just trying to engage with children to drive the passion of football", he says.

Conte was celebrating wildly in the 62nd minute as Willian's persistence finally paid off. Eden Hazard teased the Barca defence and played a pass infield to workaholic Willian who engineered a yard of space before firing a low right-foot shot inside the left-hand post.

"Nigeria has good goalkeepers waiting for this opportunity; if anyone deserves it let him play and let's support him so that we can have a formidable team for the World Cup and come back with good results".

"I think it was a great performance, an incredible performance", added Conte. They were not even workmanlike.

The result at Stamford Bridge does mean that none of the English teams have lost in their last-16 first-leg ties so far.

The training cones had taken their revenge. The Blues have recently suffered some brutal defeats to Watford and Bournemouth. "Qualification is still possible".

Eventually, it took the oldest partnership in the mix - and by extension, invoking their basic grain - in the telepathic duo of Iniesta and Messi to snatch an 'away lead' as it were.

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