Sports

Chelsea Confirmed lineup vs Barcelona: Rudiger starts; Hazard in False Nine role

Chelsea Confirmed lineup vs Barcelona: Rudiger starts; Hazard in False Nine role

Lionel Messi struck for the first time in nine games against Chelsea to give Barcelona the upper hand from the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday by salvaging a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea face Barcelona for the first time in nearly six years in tonight's Champions League Round of 16 first-leg tie at Stamford Bridge.

At 1-0 down thanks to Willian's third time lucky curled strike, Messi stepped up to level the tie and score a crucial away goal.

"We lacked more clear-cut chances, but the good thing is we managed to force an error out of them and score an equalizer", Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said through a translator. "We go back to the Camp Nou happy", said Barca boss Valverde. In fact, they nearly pulled it off quite magnificently, with Willian's brace of posts and the team's collection of wasted counters adding to the overall sense of frustration after one moment of poor play gifted the visitors their equalizer. "I think only one mistake and when you make a mistake against Barcelona, players like Messi, [Luis] Suarez, Iniesta, you have to pay".

Chelsea looked set to hold firm against Barca and take a one-goal lead to March 14′s return game at Camp Nou, only to shoot themselves in the foot.

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Chelsea constantly tried to surround Messi with three or four blue shirts to limit the Argentine's threat, but he dug out a cross to the far post where an unmarked Paulinho headed Barca's best chance of the first-half wide.

"They didn't make as many passes as us, but they pressed high and made it hard for us".

The one mistake is of course unfortunate, but young Christensen will be stronger for it.

I think when we have to have a plan for this game, respect the characteristics of the opponent and understand the best way to face them. It was also about recognising that a second leg lies ahead. We had lots of possession close to their area but after the first few minutes they began to start testing us on the counter-attack. I thought we were very good and went with a gameplan and executed it well.

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