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5 things Chelsea must do to reign in Spain again

The Stamford Bridge side go into their Champions League second leg knowing a score draw will be enough.

5 things Chelsea must do to reign in Spain again

Chelsea must avoid defeat or a goalless draw against Barcelona at the Nou Camp to keep their Champions League hopes alive after a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Stamford Bridge.

This is the seventh Champions League encounter between the two sides with both having been successful three times.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five things Chelsea must do to reign in Spain again.

1. Shackle Messi and Suarez of course

Lionel Messi, left, scored Barca's all-important away goal at Stamford Bridge
Lionel Messi, left, scored Barca’s all-important away goal at Stamford Bridge (Simon Cooper/EMPICS)

Lionel Messi missed Barcelona’s win at Malaga on Saturday due to the birth of his third child and there is every chance he could return with a bang. The Argentinian superstar has scored 35 goals in 45 matches for club and country this season, including five in his last four appearances for Barca. His partnership with Luis Suarez continues to flourish – the Uruguay international notched his 24th goal for the club in all competitions at the weekend – and if Chelsea can shut them out, their chances will increase dramatically.

2. Willian holds key for Blues

Willian’s form for Chelsea this season has been a shining light in a disappointing domestic campaign. It was his goal at Stamford Bridge in the first leg which was cancelled out by Messi and it is the Brazilian who currently carries the biggest threat for the Londoners. Not only has he been outstanding offensively in the final third, Willian’s workrate and discipline off the ball could help knock the likes of Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and, if he is fit, Andres Iniesta, out of their stride.

3. Conte selection crucial

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has to make all the right calls. The Italian has come under fire this season amid reports of an ongoing row with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and unrest in the dressing room. Some of the Italian’s selection and tactical decisions have been questionable, especially his recent option of fielding a side without a recognised striker, and he must start with either Alvaro Morata or Olivier Giroud as a spearhead as his side chase a crucial away goal. A cautious approach over the full 90 minutes at the Nou Camp will not do.

4. Happy Hazard would be more effective

Eden Hazard, left, operated as a central striker in the recent defeat at Manchester United
Eden Hazard, left, operated as a central striker in the recent defeat at Manchester United (Nigel French/EMPICS)

Chelsea have not seen the best of Eden Hazard in recent weeks as he has been deployed by Conte as a false striker. The Belgian made clear his frustration after being asked to play in the central attacking role in the first leg against Barca and in the defeat to Manchester United. If he is to thrive in the return leg he must be utilised in his favourite position. Ernesto Valverde’s LaLiga leaders have conceded only three goals in their last nine matches and the Blues carry much more potency with Hazard working his wizardry from out wide.

5. Watch out for Dembele

France’s Ousmane Dembele, centre, was in fine form for Barcelona at the weekend
France’s Ousmane Dembele, centre, was in fine form for Barcelona at the weekend (Adam Davy/EMPICS)

Ousmane Dembele has hardly hit the ground running since his mega-money summer switch to Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund in a deal which could rise to £135.5million. The 20-year-old, initially sidelined due to a serious thigh injury, has made only 11 appearances, but the French winger is beginning to find his feet. He turned in his best performance for the Catalans against Malaga, which included a brilliant assist for Philippe Coutinho, and with plenty to prove, allied with growing confidence, poses a major threat to Chelsea’s hopes of progressing.

Barcelona v Chelsea, live on BT Sport 2, 7.45pm kick-off.

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