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Chelsea seemed destined for a famous victory over the Spanish giants after a near-perfect tactical performance but one mistake proved costly
Not even Conte's tactical masterclass can stop Messi as it's advantage Barca
Chelsea seemed destined for a famous victory over the Spanish giants after a near-perfect tactical performance but one mistake proved costly
Chelsea seemed destined for a famous victory over the Spanish giants after a near-perfect tactical performance but one mistake proved costly
Not even Conte's tactical masterclass can stop Messi as it's advantage Barca
Chelsea seemed destined for a famous victory over the Spanish giants after a near-perfect tactical performance but one mistake proved costly
Chelsea seemed destined for a famous victory over the Spanish giants after a near-perfect tactical performance but one mistake proved costly
Not even Conte's tactical masterclass can stop Messi as it's advantage Barca
Chelsea seemed destined for a famous victory over the Spanish giants after a near-perfect tactical performance but one mistake proved costly
Bayern's Robert Lewandowski, left, congratulates Kingsley Coman who scored their second goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Bayern Munich and Besiktas Istanbul in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
Bayern cruises to 5-0 win over Besiktas in Champions League
Bayern's Robert Lewandowski, left, congratulates Kingsley Coman who scored their second goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Bayern Munich and Besiktas Istanbul in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
Bayern's Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Bayern Munich and Besiktas Istanbul in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)
Bayern cruises to 5-0 win over Besiktas in Champions League
Bayern's Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Bayern Munich and Besiktas Istanbul in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)
Bayern's Robert Lewandowski is congratulated by his teammate Thomas Mueller, left, after scoring his side's fifth goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Bayern Munich and Besiktas Istanbul in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
Bayern cruises to 5-0 win over Besiktas in Champions League
Bayern's Robert Lewandowski is congratulated by his teammate Thomas Mueller, left, after scoring his side's fifth goal during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Bayern Munich and Besiktas Istanbul in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
Lionel Messi scored his first goal against Chelsea at the ninth attempt during Barcelona's Champions League fixture in London.
Messi ends his Chelsea hoodoo
Lionel Messi scored his first goal against Chelsea at the ninth attempt during Barcelona's Champions League fixture in London.
The France international midfielder missed the win over Huddersfield due to illness, while Ibrahimovic has been absent since December
Boost for Man Utd as Pogba and Ibrahimovic both train ahead of Sevilla tie
The France international midfielder missed the win over Huddersfield due to illness, while Ibrahimovic has been absent since December
The Real Madrid star has been in typically prolific form in recent weeks, but he may be rested for Wednesday's league game
Sometimes resting Ronaldo is best for Real Madrid - Zidane
The Real Madrid star has been in typically prolific form in recent weeks, but he may be rested for Wednesday's league game
South Texas wasn't Motagua's first choice when it had to seek an alternate venue, but Las Aguilas Azules are making the most of their temporary home
Why is FC Motagua's CONCACAF Champions League match vs. Club Tijuana taking place in Texas?
South Texas wasn't Motagua's first choice when it had to seek an alternate venue, but Las Aguilas Azules are making the most of their temporary home
Having won the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship last season, the Reds will look to build upon that impressive legacy in 2018
Toronto FC 2018 season preview: Roster, projected lineup, schedule, national TV and more
Having won the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship last season, the Reds will look to build upon that impressive legacy in 2018
Having won the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship last season, the Reds will look to build upon that impressive legacy in 2018
Toronto FC 2018 season preview: Roster, projected lineup, schedule, national TV and more
Having won the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship last season, the Reds will look to build upon that impressive legacy in 2018
Having won the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship last season, the Reds will look to build upon that impressive legacy in 2018
Toronto FC 2018 season preview: Roster, projected lineup, schedule, national TV and more
Having won the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship last season, the Reds will look to build upon that impressive legacy in 2018
Having won the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship last season, the Reds will look to build upon that impressive legacy in 2018
Toronto FC 2018 season preview: Roster, projected lineup, schedule, national TV and more
Having won the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship last season, the Reds will look to build upon that impressive legacy in 2018
Having won the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship last season, the Reds will look to build upon that impressive legacy in 2018
Toronto FC 2018 season preview: Roster, projected lineup, schedule, national TV and more
Having won the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship last season, the Reds will look to build upon that impressive legacy in 2018
Having won the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship last season, the Reds will look to build upon that impressive legacy in 2018
Toronto FC 2018 season preview: Roster, projected lineup, schedule, national TV and more
Having won the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship last season, the Reds will look to build upon that impressive legacy in 2018
Having won the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship last season, the Reds will look to build upon that impressive legacy in 2018
Toronto FC 2018 season preview: Roster, projected lineup, schedule, national TV and more
Having won the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship last season, the Reds will look to build upon that impressive legacy in 2018
The Liverpool man is in the form of his life and, despite remaining behind Gabriel Jesus in the pecking order, could have a big impact at Russia 2018
Understudy Firmino can still play leading role for Brazil
The Liverpool man is in the form of his life and, despite remaining behind Gabriel Jesus in the pecking order, could have a big impact at Russia 2018
The Liverpool man is in the form of his life and, despite remaining behind Gabriel Jesus in the pecking order, could have a big impact at Russia 2018
Understudy Firmino can still play leading role for Brazil
The Liverpool man is in the form of his life and, despite remaining behind Gabriel Jesus in the pecking order, could have a big impact at Russia 2018
The Liverpool man is in the form of his life and, despite remaining behind Gabriel Jesus in the pecking order, could have a big impact at Russia 2018
Understudy Firmino can still play leading role for Brazil
The Liverpool man is in the form of his life and, despite remaining behind Gabriel Jesus in the pecking order, could have a big impact at Russia 2018
Everything you need to know ahead of Los Blancos' Primera Division clash at Butarque on Wednesday night...
Real Madrid Team News: Injuries, suspensions and line-up vs Leganes
Everything you need to know ahead of Los Blancos' Primera Division clash at Butarque on Wednesday night...
Everything you need to know ahead of Los Blancos' Primera Division clash at Butarque on Wednesday night...
Real Madrid Team News: Injuries, suspensions and line-up vs Leganes
Everything you need to know ahead of Los Blancos' Primera Division clash at Butarque on Wednesday night...
Everything you need to know ahead of Los Blancos' Primera Division clash at Butarque on Wednesday night...
Real Madrid Team News: Injuries, suspensions and line-up vs Leganes
Everything you need to know ahead of Los Blancos' Primera Division clash at Butarque on Wednesday night...
The U.S. youth international, who starred at the U-17 and U-20 World Cups, has turned 18 and officially inked his deal with the Bundesliga club
Teenage sensation Sargent signs professional contract with Werder Bremen
The U.S. youth international, who starred at the U-17 and U-20 World Cups, has turned 18 and officially inked his deal with the Bundesliga club
The France international left the Gunners on transfer deadline day, with the decision taken to cross London rather than head for Borussia Dortmund
Giroud explains Chelsea choice and how Aubameyang forced Arsenal exit
The France international left the Gunners on transfer deadline day, with the decision taken to cross London rather than head for Borussia Dortmund
The France international left the Gunners on transfer deadline day, with the decision taken to cross London rather than head for Borussia Dortmund
Giroud explains Chelsea choice and how Aubameyang forced Arsenal exit
The France international left the Gunners on transfer deadline day, with the decision taken to cross London rather than head for Borussia Dortmund
The Premier League side have been given a week to respond to the charge, which they have put down to "administrative oversights"
FA issue West Ham with anti-doping charge
The Premier League side have been given a week to respond to the charge, which they have put down to "administrative oversights"
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
A long time coming you might say about Lionel Messi’s first goal in the Champions League against Chelsea, although when you are up against the most formidable footballer on the planet it is always a case of when, rather than if, and it was Antonio Conte’s misfortune that it was this night. Until that equaliser, the Chelsea manager had a one-goal lead to take to the Nou Camp next month and he looked like a man who might just be able to come up with a plan to win this tie against a team that has not lost a meaningful match all season. Chelsea had around 25 per cent of the possession all night, even less than their FA Cup visitors Hull City on Friday night, but what they did have they used well and in Willian they had arguably the game’s most effective player. The Brazilian gave Chelsea the lead on 62 minutes and everything he did had quality about it, because this was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips and complain about the lack of service. Willian worked hard for every chance, struck the post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. The worst part for Conte was that Chelsea gave Barcelona their equaliser with a monumentally risky pass from Andreas Christensen that caught his team-mates out and gave Andres Iniesta and Messi the opening they rarely miss. They settle the tie in Barcelona on March 14 and one can only assume that Conte will have to rely on more of the same, fighting off the home team’s overwhelming possession and trying to strike on the break. If 24 per cent possession sounds like very little at home in a Champions League group stage tie then it looks like even less in person, and that was Chelsea’s role in the first half, a constant rearrangement behind the slowly advancing magenta tide of Barcelona players. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona It did not take long for this game to settle into a familiar pattern, and that pattern was the away team in control of the ball and Conte’s team doing what they could to fill the gaps and close down the corridors of play. Of course that is not always possible when one is up against the best team in a generation and the best player in the world, but it is about stopping Messi doing all the things he wants to do and limiting his damage. There were times when he bewitched Chelsea, in particular one shimmy that had Antonio Rudiger balancing on the wrong foot when Barcelona’s No 10 glided past him. Messi turned and faced goal more times than Chelsea might be comfortable with but he did not quite manage to carve them open before the break. Within the first half hour of the game there were some periods that were painful for Chelsea for the paucity of possession they enjoyed, the count edging up past 80 per cent in Barcelona’s favour at one point. Conte urged his side forward at those times, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four and generally they did that despite the thanklessness of the task. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES Yet when Chelsea did have the ball, they made it work for them, although they had to be quick. Conte wanted the ball forward quickly and that often meant a big diagonal strike from Rudiger on the left side over to Victor Moses on the right. Most of the time it meant that the requirement was to get the ball into Eden Hazard and Willian quickly, to try to stretch the Barcelona defence. The Brazilian was excellent, making a great deal of the little he had and striking both of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s posts at different times in the first half. The first was when Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left on 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right foot shot against ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. If Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic generally bossed the deep midfield and pulled the strings for the first half, the Croatian could count himself lucky that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was relatively lenient. Rakitic was booked for fouling Willian on the half hour when the Brazilian escaped on the counter attack, and there were two more fouls that followed which might well have merited a second yellow card if, one suspects, Rakitic did not have one already. The best Barca chance of the first half fell to the rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho who headed wide a cross that was flighted in from Messi on 15 minutes. Otherwise Barcelona were still waiting for their big opening when the half-time whistle came. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal To that end it felt a more balanced second half, even before Chelsea’s goal. The ball was mainly at the feet of Barcelona players and yet there was not quite the sense of panic in the stadium because it had been that way before and still the away team had not been able to prise Conte’s formation open. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he came to be a formidable barrier. Barcelona were arguably at their least dangerous when they had a corner and it was from a Barcelona corner that it started for the Willian goal. Thibaut Courtois again came out to claim the cross comfortably and dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard right to Willian and eventually Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. It was Hazard who spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and it was Willian who stepped past Sergio Busquets and shaped a right foot shot around the crowd of players in the area and inside ter Stegen’s left post. By that point it felt what Chelsea deserved, playing on the back foot but breaking ever more confidently. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian, by then bloodied with a ball to the face, broke down the right and elected not to pass to his unlikely breakaway partner, the rapidly advancing Kante. The lead lasted just 13 minutes and it was Messi who finished, his 98th Champions League goal, and the first against Chelsea in nine games, from a pass from Andres Iniesta. It was given away, from Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching. Instead it fell to Iniesta who did what comes as second nature and squared the ball for Messi to slot past Courtois with his left foot. He had his goal at last and Chelsea will do well not to pay for it with elimination next month. 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
One definition of stardom is when the opposition’s fans film you on phones or capture you in still photographs and edit them while the game is going on. This was the spell cast by Lionel Messi on some Chelsea supporters, however much they adore Eden Hazard. Messi, who scored Barcelona’s equaliser, is one of the most magnetic figures in the entertainment world: a luminous presence on England’s HD screens, where watching him in games in Spain is now habitual. So when he steps on to the grass under the lights, in a Premier League ground, it takes a while for spectators to believe it’s really him. For Chelsea’s best player, the adjustment was even harder, because it required Hazard to compete with a five-time world player of the year - or Ballon d’Or winner, if you prefer - because this is the standard we are obliged to measure him against. With their pictures cropped and stored away (this is not a criticism, because the urge is understandable), the Stamford Bridge crowd can now also say they were there when Messi scored against their team - at the ninth attempt. As this was the 13th meeting between the clubs since 2000, Messi was bound to get one in the end: in this case a simple sidefoot finish in front of The Shed. In the return leg at the Camp Nou, he will be cooking up something more elaborate, against a Chelsea team who performed creditably. There are days when Hazard can slalom through a mid-table Premier League side and set English football aglow. But there is another level up from there, and this was it: a round of 16 Champions League first-leg against Barcelona, who Hazard may one day face more frequently in a Real Madrid shirt. Hazard, selected as a 'false nine', frequently drifted into the No10 role Credit: AP Photo/Alastair Grant When the two big stars collided, Hazard was already 1-0 down on Messi by being moved from his best position to the role of ‘false nine.’ Barcelona could never imagine relocating their greatest player for the common good. Messi does what he should, and goes where he wants, subject to the team’s tactical needs in any given moment, which he understands well from spending his whole career in Catalonia. But Messi carried a small burden too. Chelsea were one of only seven clubs he had failed to score against in Europe, from a list of 37. For 655 minutes the Chelsea net had remained unbreached by Cristiano Ronaldo’s eternal Ballon d’Or rival. Messi had scored six against Manchester City, put eight past AC Milan and beaten Arsenal goalkeepers on nine occasions. Against Chelsea, he even missed a penalty in a 2012 semi-final - the year Chelsea went on to be champions. Messi sweeps in the equaliser after a mistake by Andreas Christensen Credit: Craig Mercer - CameraSport via Getty Images Antonio Conte’s decision to start Hazard in the central striking role (false or not) confined Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud to the bench: a plain statement of faith in Hazard, and of a slight lack of it in Chelsea’s two conventional strikers. A fizzing drive just over the crossbar in the fifth minute announced Hazard’s intention to run the show on his own turf, but it was Willian who most troubled Spain’s league leaders, with two shots against the woodwork and several driving runs, before scoring with his third, in the 61st minute, with Barcelona seemingly oblivious to the threat he posed on the edge of their penalty box. Answering Hazard’s earlier prompt, Messi set off in his first long dribble five minutes later, and came closest to changing the game when chipping a cross on to the head of Paulinho, who missed Thibaut Courtois’ net by a wide margin. At the other end, Hazard’s habit of dropping off the front line into his favoured No10 position brought him face to face with Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic, Barcelona’s two screening midfielders, who were quick to shut him down. But Willian was able to invade the space opened up by Hazard’s tussles with Barca’s midfielders. Eclipsed in the possession stats - Barcelona’s opponents always are - Chelsea nevertheless sent their guests back to the changing room for the break looking stressed and frustrated. Chelsea fans adore Hazard but were also understandably transfixed by Messi Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire There is no mystery about Messi’s importance to Barcelona, or in European football generally. He is the difference, the hand that writes results. Or as Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas said before the kick-off: “With Leo in their team, Barça will always be seen as the favourites and have a really good chance of winning the competition. Whenever Leo's on form, Barça perform. He's a player that despite how much thought you give to how you're going to stop him, if he's on song, it’s very difficult.” Hazard, 27, began the night with eight Champions League goals in 42 appearances. Messi had 97 in 121. Willian, on the other hand, has had to fight for his place in this Chelsea side, and has often seemed unjustly excluded. Too good to be a luxury back-up, he has done well to control his frustration over the years at not being an automatic starter. He is, however, an unlikely future world No1. Hazard is among a small group of world-class players waiting to storm Messi’s palace. It will have to be empty first. At Stamford Bridge, 75 minutes into this game, and after 730 minutes of trying, Messi finally put one past Chelsea. It will only sharpen his appetite for the return leg in Barcelona.
Lionel Messi seizes his chance and shows Eden Hazard what it takes to be No1
One definition of stardom is when the opposition’s fans film you on phones or capture you in still photographs and edit them while the game is going on. This was the spell cast by Lionel Messi on some Chelsea supporters, however much they adore Eden Hazard. Messi, who scored Barcelona’s equaliser, is one of the most magnetic figures in the entertainment world: a luminous presence on England’s HD screens, where watching him in games in Spain is now habitual. So when he steps on to the grass under the lights, in a Premier League ground, it takes a while for spectators to believe it’s really him. For Chelsea’s best player, the adjustment was even harder, because it required Hazard to compete with a five-time world player of the year - or Ballon d’Or winner, if you prefer - because this is the standard we are obliged to measure him against. With their pictures cropped and stored away (this is not a criticism, because the urge is understandable), the Stamford Bridge crowd can now also say they were there when Messi scored against their team - at the ninth attempt. As this was the 13th meeting between the clubs since 2000, Messi was bound to get one in the end: in this case a simple sidefoot finish in front of The Shed. In the return leg at the Camp Nou, he will be cooking up something more elaborate, against a Chelsea team who performed creditably. There are days when Hazard can slalom through a mid-table Premier League side and set English football aglow. But there is another level up from there, and this was it: a round of 16 Champions League first-leg against Barcelona, who Hazard may one day face more frequently in a Real Madrid shirt. Hazard, selected as a 'false nine', frequently drifted into the No10 role Credit: AP Photo/Alastair Grant When the two big stars collided, Hazard was already 1-0 down on Messi by being moved from his best position to the role of ‘false nine.’ Barcelona could never imagine relocating their greatest player for the common good. Messi does what he should, and goes where he wants, subject to the team’s tactical needs in any given moment, which he understands well from spending his whole career in Catalonia. But Messi carried a small burden too. Chelsea were one of only seven clubs he had failed to score against in Europe, from a list of 37. For 655 minutes the Chelsea net had remained unbreached by Cristiano Ronaldo’s eternal Ballon d’Or rival. Messi had scored six against Manchester City, put eight past AC Milan and beaten Arsenal goalkeepers on nine occasions. Against Chelsea, he even missed a penalty in a 2012 semi-final - the year Chelsea went on to be champions. Messi sweeps in the equaliser after a mistake by Andreas Christensen Credit: Craig Mercer - CameraSport via Getty Images Antonio Conte’s decision to start Hazard in the central striking role (false or not) confined Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud to the bench: a plain statement of faith in Hazard, and of a slight lack of it in Chelsea’s two conventional strikers. A fizzing drive just over the crossbar in the fifth minute announced Hazard’s intention to run the show on his own turf, but it was Willian who most troubled Spain’s league leaders, with two shots against the woodwork and several driving runs, before scoring with his third, in the 61st minute, with Barcelona seemingly oblivious to the threat he posed on the edge of their penalty box. Answering Hazard’s earlier prompt, Messi set off in his first long dribble five minutes later, and came closest to changing the game when chipping a cross on to the head of Paulinho, who missed Thibaut Courtois’ net by a wide margin. At the other end, Hazard’s habit of dropping off the front line into his favoured No10 position brought him face to face with Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic, Barcelona’s two screening midfielders, who were quick to shut him down. But Willian was able to invade the space opened up by Hazard’s tussles with Barca’s midfielders. Eclipsed in the possession stats - Barcelona’s opponents always are - Chelsea nevertheless sent their guests back to the changing room for the break looking stressed and frustrated. Chelsea fans adore Hazard but were also understandably transfixed by Messi Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire There is no mystery about Messi’s importance to Barcelona, or in European football generally. He is the difference, the hand that writes results. Or as Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas said before the kick-off: “With Leo in their team, Barça will always be seen as the favourites and have a really good chance of winning the competition. Whenever Leo's on form, Barça perform. He's a player that despite how much thought you give to how you're going to stop him, if he's on song, it’s very difficult.” Hazard, 27, began the night with eight Champions League goals in 42 appearances. Messi had 97 in 121. Willian, on the other hand, has had to fight for his place in this Chelsea side, and has often seemed unjustly excluded. Too good to be a luxury back-up, he has done well to control his frustration over the years at not being an automatic starter. He is, however, an unlikely future world No1. Hazard is among a small group of world-class players waiting to storm Messi’s palace. It will have to be empty first. At Stamford Bridge, 75 minutes into this game, and after 730 minutes of trying, Messi finally put one past Chelsea. It will only sharpen his appetite for the return leg in Barcelona.
One definition of stardom is when the opposition’s fans film you on phones or capture you in still photographs and edit them while the game is going on. This was the spell cast by Lionel Messi on some Chelsea supporters, however much they adore Eden Hazard. Messi, who scored Barcelona’s equaliser, is one of the most magnetic figures in the entertainment world: a luminous presence on England’s HD screens, where watching him in games in Spain is now habitual. So when he steps on to the grass under the lights, in a Premier League ground, it takes a while for spectators to believe it’s really him. For Chelsea’s best player, the adjustment was even harder, because it required Hazard to compete with a five-time world player of the year - or Ballon d’Or winner, if you prefer - because this is the standard we are obliged to measure him against. With their pictures cropped and stored away (this is not a criticism, because the urge is understandable), the Stamford Bridge crowd can now also say they were there when Messi scored against their team - at the ninth attempt. As this was the 13th meeting between the clubs since 2000, Messi was bound to get one in the end: in this case a simple sidefoot finish in front of The Shed. In the return leg at the Camp Nou, he will be cooking up something more elaborate, against a Chelsea team who performed creditably. There are days when Hazard can slalom through a mid-table Premier League side and set English football aglow. But there is another level up from there, and this was it: a round of 16 Champions League first-leg against Barcelona, who Hazard may one day face more frequently in a Real Madrid shirt. Hazard, selected as a 'false nine', frequently drifted into the No10 role Credit: AP Photo/Alastair Grant When the two big stars collided, Hazard was already 1-0 down on Messi by being moved from his best position to the role of ‘false nine.’ Barcelona could never imagine relocating their greatest player for the common good. Messi does what he should, and goes where he wants, subject to the team’s tactical needs in any given moment, which he understands well from spending his whole career in Catalonia. But Messi carried a small burden too. Chelsea were one of only seven clubs he had failed to score against in Europe, from a list of 37. For 655 minutes the Chelsea net had remained unbreached by Cristiano Ronaldo’s eternal Ballon d’Or rival. Messi had scored six against Manchester City, put eight past AC Milan and beaten Arsenal goalkeepers on nine occasions. Against Chelsea, he even missed a penalty in a 2012 semi-final - the year Chelsea went on to be champions. Messi sweeps in the equaliser after a mistake by Andreas Christensen Credit: Craig Mercer - CameraSport via Getty Images Antonio Conte’s decision to start Hazard in the central striking role (false or not) confined Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud to the bench: a plain statement of faith in Hazard, and of a slight lack of it in Chelsea’s two conventional strikers. A fizzing drive just over the crossbar in the fifth minute announced Hazard’s intention to run the show on his own turf, but it was Willian who most troubled Spain’s league leaders, with two shots against the woodwork and several driving runs, before scoring with his third, in the 61st minute, with Barcelona seemingly oblivious to the threat he posed on the edge of their penalty box. Answering Hazard’s earlier prompt, Messi set off in his first long dribble five minutes later, and came closest to changing the game when chipping a cross on to the head of Paulinho, who missed Thibaut Courtois’ net by a wide margin. At the other end, Hazard’s habit of dropping off the front line into his favoured No10 position brought him face to face with Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic, Barcelona’s two screening midfielders, who were quick to shut him down. But Willian was able to invade the space opened up by Hazard’s tussles with Barca’s midfielders. Eclipsed in the possession stats - Barcelona’s opponents always are - Chelsea nevertheless sent their guests back to the changing room for the break looking stressed and frustrated. Chelsea fans adore Hazard but were also understandably transfixed by Messi Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire There is no mystery about Messi’s importance to Barcelona, or in European football generally. He is the difference, the hand that writes results. Or as Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas said before the kick-off: “With Leo in their team, Barça will always be seen as the favourites and have a really good chance of winning the competition. Whenever Leo's on form, Barça perform. He's a player that despite how much thought you give to how you're going to stop him, if he's on song, it’s very difficult.” Hazard, 27, began the night with eight Champions League goals in 42 appearances. Messi had 97 in 121. Willian, on the other hand, has had to fight for his place in this Chelsea side, and has often seemed unjustly excluded. Too good to be a luxury back-up, he has done well to control his frustration over the years at not being an automatic starter. He is, however, an unlikely future world No1. Hazard is among a small group of world-class players waiting to storm Messi’s palace. It will have to be empty first. At Stamford Bridge, 75 minutes into this game, and after 730 minutes of trying, Messi finally put one past Chelsea. It will only sharpen his appetite for the return leg in Barcelona.
Lionel Messi seizes his chance and shows Eden Hazard what it takes to be No1
One definition of stardom is when the opposition’s fans film you on phones or capture you in still photographs and edit them while the game is going on. This was the spell cast by Lionel Messi on some Chelsea supporters, however much they adore Eden Hazard. Messi, who scored Barcelona’s equaliser, is one of the most magnetic figures in the entertainment world: a luminous presence on England’s HD screens, where watching him in games in Spain is now habitual. So when he steps on to the grass under the lights, in a Premier League ground, it takes a while for spectators to believe it’s really him. For Chelsea’s best player, the adjustment was even harder, because it required Hazard to compete with a five-time world player of the year - or Ballon d’Or winner, if you prefer - because this is the standard we are obliged to measure him against. With their pictures cropped and stored away (this is not a criticism, because the urge is understandable), the Stamford Bridge crowd can now also say they were there when Messi scored against their team - at the ninth attempt. As this was the 13th meeting between the clubs since 2000, Messi was bound to get one in the end: in this case a simple sidefoot finish in front of The Shed. In the return leg at the Camp Nou, he will be cooking up something more elaborate, against a Chelsea team who performed creditably. There are days when Hazard can slalom through a mid-table Premier League side and set English football aglow. But there is another level up from there, and this was it: a round of 16 Champions League first-leg against Barcelona, who Hazard may one day face more frequently in a Real Madrid shirt. Hazard, selected as a 'false nine', frequently drifted into the No10 role Credit: AP Photo/Alastair Grant When the two big stars collided, Hazard was already 1-0 down on Messi by being moved from his best position to the role of ‘false nine.’ Barcelona could never imagine relocating their greatest player for the common good. Messi does what he should, and goes where he wants, subject to the team’s tactical needs in any given moment, which he understands well from spending his whole career in Catalonia. But Messi carried a small burden too. Chelsea were one of only seven clubs he had failed to score against in Europe, from a list of 37. For 655 minutes the Chelsea net had remained unbreached by Cristiano Ronaldo’s eternal Ballon d’Or rival. Messi had scored six against Manchester City, put eight past AC Milan and beaten Arsenal goalkeepers on nine occasions. Against Chelsea, he even missed a penalty in a 2012 semi-final - the year Chelsea went on to be champions. Messi sweeps in the equaliser after a mistake by Andreas Christensen Credit: Craig Mercer - CameraSport via Getty Images Antonio Conte’s decision to start Hazard in the central striking role (false or not) confined Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud to the bench: a plain statement of faith in Hazard, and of a slight lack of it in Chelsea’s two conventional strikers. A fizzing drive just over the crossbar in the fifth minute announced Hazard’s intention to run the show on his own turf, but it was Willian who most troubled Spain’s league leaders, with two shots against the woodwork and several driving runs, before scoring with his third, in the 61st minute, with Barcelona seemingly oblivious to the threat he posed on the edge of their penalty box. Answering Hazard’s earlier prompt, Messi set off in his first long dribble five minutes later, and came closest to changing the game when chipping a cross on to the head of Paulinho, who missed Thibaut Courtois’ net by a wide margin. At the other end, Hazard’s habit of dropping off the front line into his favoured No10 position brought him face to face with Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic, Barcelona’s two screening midfielders, who were quick to shut him down. But Willian was able to invade the space opened up by Hazard’s tussles with Barca’s midfielders. Eclipsed in the possession stats - Barcelona’s opponents always are - Chelsea nevertheless sent their guests back to the changing room for the break looking stressed and frustrated. Chelsea fans adore Hazard but were also understandably transfixed by Messi Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire There is no mystery about Messi’s importance to Barcelona, or in European football generally. He is the difference, the hand that writes results. Or as Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas said before the kick-off: “With Leo in their team, Barça will always be seen as the favourites and have a really good chance of winning the competition. Whenever Leo's on form, Barça perform. He's a player that despite how much thought you give to how you're going to stop him, if he's on song, it’s very difficult.” Hazard, 27, began the night with eight Champions League goals in 42 appearances. Messi had 97 in 121. Willian, on the other hand, has had to fight for his place in this Chelsea side, and has often seemed unjustly excluded. Too good to be a luxury back-up, he has done well to control his frustration over the years at not being an automatic starter. He is, however, an unlikely future world No1. Hazard is among a small group of world-class players waiting to storm Messi’s palace. It will have to be empty first. At Stamford Bridge, 75 minutes into this game, and after 730 minutes of trying, Messi finally put one past Chelsea. It will only sharpen his appetite for the return leg in Barcelona.

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