It’s set to be one of the most fascinating European battles of the 21st Century.
Chelsea, out of the Premier League race, have renewed energy after negotiating a route to the last eight of the FA Cup last weekend.
Barcelona, under Ernesto Valverde, have been ruthlessly consistent – sitting seven points clear at the top of La Liga and securing a spot in the Copa del Rey final against Sevilla in April.
Here, we’ve gone through tonight’s expected line ups – and picked out the key battles from tonight.
Barcelona (4-4-2): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Alba, Pique, Umtiti; Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic, Paulinho; Messi, Suarez.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois, Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Morata.
Marc Andre Ter Stegen versus Thibaut Courtois
Valverde has stuck with Marc-Andre ter Stegen for most of the Champions League and it’s not hard to see why.
The German has been in brilliant form throughout the season – and won a 87-rated Ultimate Team of the Group stage card.
Courtois, meanwhile, has been solid and is perhaps more mobile than ter Stegen, reflected by his higher diving and speed ratings.
At 89-rated, the Belgian will be in for a busy night against Lionel Messi and co.
Gerard Pique versus Andreas Christensen
Gerard Pique has developed a strong understanding with Samuel Umtiti in central defence this season.
What he lacks in pace, he makes up for with brilliant positioning and fearless tackling.
At 21-years-old, Andreas Christensen may be 10 years Pique’s junior, but he’s already impressing fans with consistent, assured performances.
He’s going to need to be at the absolute top of his game to deal with Luis Suarez, who – after a drought – has returned to his best.
You’d still pick Pique over the Dane, but in time that will change.
Andres Iniesta versus Ngolo Kante
Valverde has a well-balanced midfield quartet with Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and Paulinho. The latter has been somewhat of a revelation after a two-year stint at Guangzhou Evergrande.
Iniesta may coming into the twilight years of his career, but he still remains one of the game’s finest midfielders.
His close control, dribbling and eye for a pass will stretch Chelsea to the limit and exploit any weaknesses in defence.
Thankfully, N’Golo Kante’s more than capable of throwing a spanner in the works – and he’ll look to shut down Iniesta from the off.
He’s far quicker than the Spaniard, which will come in handy – although he’s nowhere near as creative.
It’s attack versus defence – and it’s too close to call.
Lionel Messi versus Alvaro Morata
Lionel Messi has been incredible this season and will be looking to add to his 100 goals in European competitions at Stamford Bridge.
Antonio Conte saw some encouraging glimpses between Olivier Giroud and Eden Hazard, but Alvaro Morata is likely to get the nod tonight.
He offers plenty of pace upfront, which could prove an issue for the slower Barca central defenders.
All eyes, though, will be on the Barca man.
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