Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas’ friendship, and the intimacy of it, is no secret to anyone as the former teammates even went on a vacation together to Spanish island Formentera last summer. However, this isn’t going to stop our midfield maestro from “doing everything possible” to ensure that Chelsea stop his previous club Barcelona (and his close friend), and progress through to the quarterfinals of the prestigious UEFA Champions League.
To do so, Chelsea will need to be even more successful in stifling Barcelona’s attack as the Blues managed to keep the first leg of the round of 16 match-up at a 1-1 draw. A score that could have been much better had it been for good luck on two of Willian’s long shots that hit the post instead of going past goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen; and Andreas Christensen’s mistake that ensued a collective blunder on our defence just so Messi, who was kept quiet for much of the game, could score his first goal in over 10 matches against Chelsea.
Must admit I'm a bit baffled by all the praise #Messi has been getting for his display last night. For the most part #cfc negated him comfortably.Took goal well, but it came from a Chelsea mistake - not moment of magic.Without the goal, would his display be lauded so highly?— Simon Johnson (@sjstandardsport) February 21, 2018
If Chelsea are to get anything out of the second leg, the plan needs to be the same (hopefully without the error this time). Fàbregas, too, seems to be firmly set in this idea.
“If I am lucky enough to play, we are positioned in nearby areas of the pitch. Stopping him will be difficult but I will do everything possible so that he feels uncomfortable and can’t put together a perfect performance.”
“I see him as a rival who wants to win, and I want the same thing. We are in different teams and each player wants what is best for their own club. Obviously, you always have respect for each other.”
“It doesn’t bother me to play against my previous club or old friends, it motivates me. I did it with Arsenal and now with Chelsea, I’ve felt pretty good on both occasions.”
“Nobody should doubt that I want the best for my current club. In fact, it gives me extra motivation.”
-Cesc Fabregas, Source: Daily Mail
The Spanish midfielder has started all seven of Chelsea’s Champion League matches this season, and this looks certain to continue in the second leg. Fàbregas, who is known for his creativity, didn’t have much of an impact offensively in the first leg because he was deployed in a much more defensive role. Hopefully next Wednesday, he will able to have a bigger impact in the affair.