Chelsea Boss Antonio Conte on Trying to Stop Lionel Messi, Barcelona


lionel messi

Tuesday’s last-16 Champions League ties include Lionel Messi and Barcelona visiting Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea in what is one of the two highest profile match-ups this round. Messi hasn’t scored in any of his eight matches against Chelsea, and that marks his worst record against any club anywhere.

Chelsea Manager Antonio Conte is obviously looking to keep that streak alive while also intending to slow down all the other galacticos that Barcelona has. The Italian says that if they focus only on Messi, it’s an approach that could really backfire.

“I hope that we maintain this tradition but we are speaking about a fantastic player,” the Blues boss said.

“We must have great respect but at the same time we must be excited to play this type of game and take on this type of challenge.”


“It won’t be easy because we know very well this player. We are talking about one of the best players in the world, but we for sure will work together, work with the team, but not just to try to stop him: if we focus on just man-marking Messi, it can be very dangerous.”

Conte claims that he and his Chelsea side have been analyzing the Catalan giants for weeks already. He knows that his team has to play a perfect game in order to stop a side that is dominating La Liga right now, and also clearly one of the best teams in the world. Andres Iniesta is another key Barcelona player who must be accounted for (more on that here).

“We have been analyzing this team for a long time; we started one month ago and analyzed this team,” Conte continued.

“We are speaking about one of the best teams in the world. We have to try to have the perfect game and to try to make the best decisions also for this type of team.”

So what will be the key to stopping Lionel Messi and company? How will Conte lead his team to the big upset victory?

Ball control; the Blues boss believes the key to victory resides in the portion of the game where the West London side has possession.

“This is a different opponent,” Conte added. “They have a fantastic characteristic with the ball, but they can have a weakness without the ball and we must try to exploit this.”

Odds: Chelsea 5/2, Draw 12/5, Barcelona 21/20

Chelsea starting XI prediction: go to this link

Injury report for both teams: go to this link

Prediction: Barcelona 3, Chelsea 1

Feel free to post your own Chelsea and/or Barcelona starting XI predictions, as well as your best guess as to what the final score will be.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC and Chicago, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

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