Barcelona boss Valverde tells Chelsea: History counts

By Iain Strachan 20 February 2018 826
Barcelona boss Valverde tells Chelsea: History counts

Ernesto Valverde feels Barcelona's historical edge over Chelsea in Champions League knockout ties could count in his team's favour, as Lionel Messi seeks to end his drought against the Blues.

The two sides will face each other for the 13th time in the Champions League when Barca visit Stamford Bridge for the first leg of their round-of-16 tie on Tuesday.

Chelsea are unbeaten in their last seven games against Barca in UEFA's elite club competition.

But it is LaLiga's leaders who have fared better beyond the group stage, having won three knockout ties compared to Chelsea's two when the teams have met. 

And Valverde, addressing the media before the match, did not discount the potential influence of past encounters.

"History counts," he said.

"The main players change during the game. Messi, [Andres] Iniesta might still be there, but I think it's good that there's been a little rivalry, it gives us a little bit more expectation."

Surprisingly, Barca star Messi has never scored in 655 minutes of action against Chelsea, although Valverde knows his team will offer plenty of support to the Argentina international as he seeks to end that unhappy sequence.

"This tie is important for Leo, for me, for everyone. For Barcelona. It'll be tough, but it's important because we want to qualify," he said.

"Leo perhaps hasn't had much luck against Chelsea before, but Tuesday is a different game."

Valverde also welcomed the challenge of going up against Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte, who guided the club to the Premier League title in his first season in charge last term, having also impressed with Juventus and Italy. 

He said: "Antonio Conte is one of the best coaches in the world. He's got a fantastic CV, not just here in England after winning the league with Chelsea, but with Juve and with his national team.

"His teams are well drilled tactically. They know what to do in every moment and it's a real challenge.

"We're planning to change our dynamic a little bit away from home. They're physical, they defend well. They've got players who can hit you well on the counterattack."

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Iain Strachan

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