Barcelona vs. Chelsea, UEFA Champions League 2012: Open Thread

Barcelona vs Chelsea

***Due to a mixup, we posted two threads. I've merged the two posts, and appended Jared's observations to the bottom. Sorry about the mixup. GO BLUES!! --Gabe

Hello MM'ers and welcome to your very own Barcelona v. Chelsea UEFA Champions League 2012 semifinals open thread.

According to ESPN:

Barca will line-up in a 3-4-3 formation with the following starting XI:

Valdes, Pique, Mascherano, Puyol, Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas, Cuenca, Iniesta, Messi, Sanchez

Substitutes: Pinto, Keita, Alves, Thiago, Tello, Adriano, Pedro

The two things that jump out immediately are the restoration of Cesc Fabregas and the fact that Dani Alves has been dropped from the starting lineup. I'm sure Barca are a little rattled coming off of two losses in the past week, including, of course, their first home loss in 55 matches, but I definitely expect them to attack ferociously and I'm just not sure Chelsea will be able to withstand the onslaught.

Chelsea will defend in what is being reported as 4-5-1 formation with the following line-up:

Cech, Terry, Cahill, Cole, Ivanovic, Lampard, Ramires, Mikel, Meireles, Mata, Drogba

Substitutes: Essien, Malouda, Torres, Turnbull, Kalou, Bosingwa, Sturridge

I found it hard to imagine Didier Drogba missing this match, short of him having broken bones. He apparently does have a knock, though, so it remains to be seen if he'll be the same powerful presence he was last week at Stamford Bridge.

If you haven't already done so, please take a moment to read, comment on and answer Managing Madrid's Question of the Week.

Alright, Madridistas, time to see if this nightmarish week continues for our Catalan friends. Or if the Blues are simply blown away.

Enjoy the match!

Jared's analysis:

After a tough loss in Saturday's El Clasico, Barcelona host Chelsea in this crucial second leg of the UEFA Champions League Semifinals, and we're here to hold your hand through it all! The game starts at 20:45 PM CET (2:45 PM EST) in the Camp Nou in Barcelona, which has been a fortress for the home side this season.

Pep Guardiola's men are in for another tough test tonight, as Chelsea enter the second leg with the 1-0 advantage. Barca have opted for an attacking 3-4-3 tonight, with Spanish internationals Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas returning to the starting XI.

Can the Blues hang on to their one-goal advantage? Will Didier Drogba have the same impact upfront for the away side? Will Lionel Messi fire Barca into the Champions League Final? Can Roberto Di Matteo's Chelsea pull off an historic upset, and knock off the defending European champions?

Consider this your forum to discuss the match respectfully, to mourn and celebrate together. If a Barca fan stumbles in (or comes to gloat) treat him or her with respect, as we would want the same from them. Make sure to follow Managing Madrid on Twitter @managingmadrid (and me @jareddublin!) for in-game updates, and like our Facebook page for more MM news!

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