Chelsea: 8 Reasons They Can Beat Barcelona in Champions League Semis
Chelsea beat Benfica in both legs of their quarterfinal tie to set up and intriguing semifinal encounter with Barcelona.
The English side is certainly the underdog but will make things difficult for the Spanish giants and could possibly beat them.
These two teams have a lot of great history in the Champions League but while it is virtually the same Chelsea team, Barcelona is a whole new entity since those days.
Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will provide a very exciting semifinal tie also, but Chelsea's games with Barcelona cannot be overlooked.
Here are eight reasons why Chelsea could beat Barcelona in the Champions League semifinal.
Fernando Torres' Return to Form
Fernando Torres is still nowhere near his best but he has played better and been more productive for Chelsea in the last few games.
He scored two goals against Leicester in the FA Cup, assisted in the first leg against Benfica and had a goal and an assist against Aston Villa last weekend.
If Torres can keep this up and, hopefully, improve it, Chelsea will have a good chance.
He and the team have two weeks and three games—Wigan (h), Fulham (a) and Tottenham in the FA Cup semifinal—to get into really good form for the first leg.
Barcelona have tons of experience—but so do Chelsea.
Frank Lampard, John Terry, Didier Drogba and Ashley Cole have all reached this point before, while both Fernando Torres and Juan Mata have played important games on an international level.
In every area, Chelsea has experience that will enable them to handle any situation. Many of the key players on this team have also encountered this Barcelona team on a personal level, having played them in the 2008/09 Champions League semifinal.
Juan Mata will play a pivotal role in this tie outside of his obvious skills. He is the only player to have seen the most recent evolution of Barcelona up close.
This Barcelona team is not the same as last year's but they are even more different than the 2008/09 version that Chelsea faced.
Mata can give his teammates some tips on what to expect beyond what they see on TV and that kind of information—whatever it may be—could prove very useful in the hands of experienced players.
Barcelona's Occupation with La Liga
Pep Guardiola ruled out any chance of his side winning La Liga but that was at the end of February.
With only six points separating them from Real Madrid, the title is certainly still on his—and the teams'—mind.
Barcelona will have a tough away game against Levante before the first leg and an even tougher home game—and definite title decider—against Real Madrid ahead of the second.
The "underdog" tag was never going to help Bayer 04 Leverkusen, while AC Milan couldn't make the best of it either.
Things may turn out better for Chelsea though.
AC Milan did a remarkable job to hold Barcelona scoreless in Italy but eventually succumbed in Spain. The absence of Thiago Silva had a lot to do with that and Chelsea will have to make sure the same does not happen with its defensive leader, John Terry.
Things were tighter in 2008/09 and Chelsea was on a similar level to Barcelona. That is definitely not the case this time around. Barcelona will not take the London side lightly but they may not expect the same fight they received back then.
Frank Lampard believes his side can win.
Chelsea's recent little resurgence and the possibility that they will be in even better form when the tie comes around are good enough reasons to believe that.
Confidence and belief will be key. If Chelsea can repeat AC Milan's feat of a scoreless home draw, then they will be in a very good position.
They have had close fought games with Barcelona in the past and shouldn't expect it to be any different this time around.
As we said before, this is virtually the same team that faced Barcelona in the 2008/09 Champions League semifinal.
The key players—Frank Lampard, John Terry, Didier Drogba and others—have not forgotten that tie and will want to exact revenge.
As Frank Lampard said:
"Everyone's got unfinished business with them," the 33-year-old told Sky Sports. "That game is still in our minds, but this is a completely different year so we need to try and beat them."
Results Against Spanish Opposition in Last 5 Years
Since 2007/08, Chelsea have faced three different Spanish teams—Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.
They won and drew against Valencia in 2007/08; they drew with Barcelona twice in 2008/09 (losing on away goals); they won and drew against Atletico Madrid in 2009/10; and they drew and beat Valencia in 2011/12.
That is an overall record of three wins, four draws and one loss on a technicality. It isn't outstanding but it is a solid record against some pretty good opposition.
Chelsea can take that record with them into their games in the knowledge that Barcelona did not beat them outright in 2008/09.