LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 18: Didier Drogba of Chelsea makes a break during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Chelsea and Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on April 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Less than a week after Real Madrid beat Barcelona in a stunning and exciting turn of events in the Camp Nou, Madridistas and football fans will be treated to yet another round of fantastic matches as the Champions League looms ahead. Tonight, all eyes will once again be trained on Barcelona as they try to overturn their 1-0 first leg deficit against Chelsea in the second-leg of this year's semifinal series. Tomorrow, it will be a Champions League evening in the Spanish capitol as los blancos entertain Bayern Munich. They are in need of a victory to advance after their disappointing 2-1 loss to the Germans at the Allianz Arena.
This week's question is twofold: What are your predictions for this round of Champions League Semi-finals? Can the Spanish teams overcome their first-leg losses and advance? Or will Chelsea silence the Camp Nou?
Fortunately, we're not going to have to wait long for an answer. Now, before we worry about those Germans, it's time to go Blue as we eagerly anticipate the match and consequent result of Chelsea's game against Barcelona.
Last Wednesday, Chelsea beat Barcelona 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. Although they have the advantage, it is not going to be easy to qualify for the final against the Catalans. Already ringing after two consecutive losses, Barcelona will be highly motivated to improve their fortunes. The line-up Guardiola chooses tonight will undergo close scrutiny, as some questions were raised about the team he fielded against Real Madrid. Although Tello managed to spur some action along the wing, it is less than likely that he will feature in the starting 11. Fabregas would be an obvious option; however, his earlier performance against Chelsea was less than stellar. Guardiola could be tempted to employ Alexis Sanchez, who made an impact when he subbed this Saturday.
As for the visitors, I consulted with a couple Chelsea fans and they seem positive about the match tonight. And confidence is what that team needs if they are going to take on a Catalan side seeking a little bit of revenge. Although playing away could be seen as an obvious disadvantage, Camp Nou has a physically and psychologically longer pitch, which as my friend Mohamed noted, could leave space for Torres with Ramires bringing up the back.Chelsea will have to tighten their defense to keep Messi and Co from running rampant, but playing defensively hardly wields positive results against the Catalan giants, so scoring early will be key.
I doubt Chelsea will press as high as Real Madrid did this Saturday considering they'll want to remain compact, so they will rely on their counter-attack. This is where the striker selection will be vital. It will be interesting to see whether Di Matteo will start Torres, who has seven goals in 10 appearances against Barca or Drogba, who put in a MoM performace in the first leg (Thanks to Raghid for that interesting point). Considering Chelsea fans don't have much faith in the Spanish striker, it would be surprising to see him start.
As much as I would love to see a Real Madrid-Chelsea final, it's hard to see Barcelona losing three important matches consecutively, let alone seeing them slip out of two competitions within a week. However, anything is possible and Chelsea might have a good shot at reaching the Allianz Arena. For more about that interesting match, there are some awesome stats and a great lineup posted here on Yahoo! Sports, but personally I encourage you all to head off to SB Nation's own Chelsea blog, We Ain't Got No History. I dropped by earlier and they have some fun and fantastic articles up about the match.
Now before you make your predictions, here is what some other fans had to say:
"Barcelona and Chelsea is a difficult match to predict. But what I can assure is that if Chelsea don't score in the first half, then it will be over. With Madrid and Bayern, Madrid have the upper hand although they are technically losing because Madrid scored a goal while being away, thus a 1-0 victory would, bring allow Madrid to advance. But when does Madrid ever end with just 1-0?"
-Omar, Egypt, Real Madrid
"Obviously [Bayern and Chelsea] will play defensively...both remember we have a home advantage. I believe both Barca and Real will manage to pull it through. Real will send their tight midfield squad and try to maintain their high ball possession using Ozil and Kaka together. Barca will play normally like how they always do but Fabregas will be there."
-Chan, South Korea, Real Madrid
"[Real Madrid and Barcelona will] probably go through. I expect comfortable victories for both teams, unless Chelsea mange to get a goal, then it'll be tough for Barca to score three."
-Zaid, Syria, Real Madrid
"Expect Guardiola to play a stronger formation than the one for el Classico [...] Chelsea will also be fresher, since most of the team was rested this week. But Barca is still Barca so I see them winning 2-0 in extra time. Madrid are high on confidence, and will win 2-0 as well."
-Yusuf, Ethiopia, AC Milan
"If one of the two [visitors] score, then I don't think Barca or Madrid can bounce back."
-Phillip, Lebanon, AC Milan
Now that you've read a few opinions from other fans, Managing Madrid would like to hear from you-madridistas and other fans alike, take a vote in the poll, comment on our facebook page, and tweet us @managingmadrid. Keep the conversation going below and join us tonight at the live thread to become Chelsea fans for the day.
You can see Real Madrid in action tomorrow against Bayern Munich so stick with us here on Managing Madrid for coverage of the match and this year's Champions League season. Go Blues and Hala Madrid!
Will Chelsea advance?
Yes (128 votes)
No (16 votes)
Maybe. Not so sure. Anything can happen. (21 votes)
Who cares? Bring on Madrid! (7 votes)
172 total votes