Chelsea will play host to Barcelona on Tuesday in what should be one of the most enthralling ties of the UEFA Champions League round of 16.
Both clubs have won the tournament in the last decade and are giants of their domestic competitions―the Blues are Premier League champions, while Barcelona lead La Liga after falling three points shy of the title last season.
The Blaugrana are favourites going into this tie, courtesy of better form, but anything could happen over the course of two matches. Here's a look ahead to the first leg.
Date: Tuesday, February 20
Time: 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London
TV Info: BT Sports 2 (UK), Fox Sports 1 (U.S.)
Barcelona have lost just once in 2018—in the Copa del Rey against Espanyol—and hadn't tasted defeat in any competition since August when they suffered a loss against rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup.
The Catalans have slipped up recently, with draws against Getafe and Espanyol, but they still have a healthy lead in La Liga and enter the second half of the European campaign with high expectations.
Chelsea's Premier League form has fallen off, with two losses in their last three matches, and the Blues trail Manchester City by an incredible 19 points already.
Injuries have plagued the side, although the team should see one key member return before the match against Barcelona, per Goal's Nizaar Kinsella:
The lack of an ace scorer has held Chelsea back since the turn of the year, as Alvaro Morata hasn't found the net yet in 2018. Michy Batshuayi's good form for Borussia Dortmund only makes things worse―fans are left to wonder what could have been for the Blues' loanee―and the emphasis to score will likely fall on Eden Hazard once again against the Catalans.
Barcelona don't concede a lot of goals―just 11 so far in La Liga―and keeping them from grabbing a vital away goal could prove tricky. Lionel Messi is again in the midst of a fine season, while Luis Suarez has rediscovered his shooting boots and Ousmane Dembele is back from injury.
The Blaugrana have struggled with physical defences who limit space out wide in the attacking third, however, and Chelsea have the ability to do the same. Head coach Antonio Conte hasn't been afraid to go to a three-man defence and could opt for a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 yet again, dropping his wing-backs deep.
Whether Chelsea can compete with Barcelona in midfield using such a formation remains to be seen, but it could result in a fantastic first leg.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona