PREVIEW: CHELSEA READY TO STUN BARCELONA IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Its a hugely anticipated clash among two EUROPEAN giants. Both are past winners of the competition and have met a couple of times in the group stages and also in the knock out phase before. Both in the past have boasted the creme de la Creme of Talents in the business and still currently have an embarrassment of talents in their ranks and its all set up to be a pulsating game come kick off time.
BARCELONA boss Ernesto Valverde has heaped praise on opposite number Antonio Conte ahead of the his side’s clash against Chelsea.
The Spanish giants are clear favourites for this game, even though it will be played at Stamford Bridge.
But Valverde is clearly taking nothing for granted before the two European heavyweights clash.
Speaking at a press conference earlier today, the 54-year-old said: “Any time to play them [Chelsea] is bad, they are very strong.
“They are getting better in the last few games, in Hazard, Morata, Pedro and Willian they have a lot of quality up front and they play with three at the back.”
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And on Conte, Valverde added: “He is one of the best managers in the world with a great record. Not just at Chelsea but Juventus and Italy.
“You can tell the quality in the way he coaches. They can counter at any moment, it is a team run very clearly by him.”
There are five English teams in the last 16 of Europe’s elite competition for the first time ever, a stat not gone unnoticed with Valverde.
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He said: “English teams are playing incredibly well this year. We are talking about the current Premier League champions and we look forward to playing them.
And Barca midfielder Ivan Rakitic is also expecting a tough battle on the pitch in West London.
The Croatian said: “We know Chelsea’s players, we know they are very strong physically and mentally.
“They are going to make life difficult on the pitch and we are going to have to work hard
.”with Chelsea you don’t only have to cope with the threats on the pitch but also their Mental Strength”