We could dwell on the history of this rivalry, and all the happy, sad, controversial, regrettable, spectacular moments. Some of the wounds are still raw, despite all the years. Some of the joyous miracles are everlasting and unforgettable.
Or we could do what Chelsea always do best, and make history.
These are the nights when heroes are made.
Who will step up and be legendary?
Date / Time: Tuesday, February 20, 2018, 19:45 GMT; 2:45pm EST; 1:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir — a remarkable 8th Chelsea game for the Turkish referee, whom we might remember mostly from the Miracle of the Camp Nou in 2012, but he’s also overseen other less spectacular moments like Di Matteo’s final match in charge or the losing effort in the Club World Cup final. He was also in charge for Chelsea’s best win in Europe so far this season, the 2-1 away to Atletico.
Forecast: Breezy, misty, anti-Messi
On TV: BT Sport 2 (UK); Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes (USA); Sony TEN 2 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live (UK); Fox Soccer Match Pass (USA); Sony LIV (India)
Chelsea team news: Somehow nobody bothered to ask Conte about team news or injuries in the pre-match press conference, but as far as we can tell, Tiemoue Bakayoko and David Luiz are the only two definite absentees. Ross Barkley was back in training yesterday though is also unlikely to take part so soon, but Marcos Alonso should be available to return as the left wing-back after three matches out. Chelsea rotated heavily for Friday’s win over Hull City in the FA Cup, so most key players should have had a solid week to rest, recover, and get ready.
Chelsea’s European campaign after a year’s absence has seen some nice highs (2-1 win over Atletico, for example) and some rather shocking lows (3-0 loss to Roma, for example), all in the span of just six games. What will tonight bring is anyone’s guess — at their best, Chelsea can hang with the best in the world. And yet this same team can lose by three goals to Bournemouth and Watford. If last year was defined by the passion of relentless consistency, this season has been anything but.
Still, confidence seems to be okay and everyone’s saying the right things. Chelsea of all teams need no reminder that anything can happen in the knockout rounds, and that with a little belief even the impossible is possible. Who knows, maybe even Conte could win a knockout competition one day!
Barcelona team news: Right back Nelson Semedo is suspended and record-signing Philippe Coutinho is ineligible, but all the other famous and not so famous names are here, happy, and hangry for revenge for 2012. Barca have La Liga more or less wrapped up already so this is their biggest emphasis for the rest of the season.
This edition of Barca may not be the “pure” Barca of seasons’ past, but they are certainly capable of that kind of magic and now are capable of such basic things as solid defending or ruthless attacking efficiency as well. And of course they still have Messi.
Since losing their version of the Charity Shield before the start of the season, Barca have lost just one (count ‘em, 1) match all season, a 1-0 cup shocker to local rivals Espanyol — Barca advanced anyway after winning the second leg of that knockout round 2-0. They have conceded just 11 goals in the league (24 games) while scoring 62. They conceded 1 goal in the 6 group stage matches.
Sooo... yeah. This could get ugly.
View from the enemy: Barca Blaugranes
Hype: Nice one from friend of the blog Daniel Katona.