Barcelona are backed to take a clear advantage from the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie at Chelsea.
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Chelsea v Barcelona (1945 GMT, BT Sport 2)
By George Pitts
We have seen some classics between these sides over the last two decades.
The competitive record reads five wins each and five draws, the last victory for Chelsea coming on that famous night in 2012 - when Fernando Torres’ goal led to a certain reaction by Gary Neville on commentary - as the Blues advanced on away goals, eventually winning the final.
Pep Guardiola and Roberto Di Matteo were in the dugouts on that evening at the Nou Camp and a lot has changed – both clubs are on their fourth manager since then.
Antonio Conte has been under pressure at Chelsea in recent weeks, as they cling to the Premier League's top four after a blip, and how they do here could well decide his future.
The Blues gathered 11 points out of a possible 18 in the group stages, with just one defeat to Roma. That loss meant they finished second in their group due to their head-to-head record with the Serie A side, unfortunate for Chelsea as they were paired with the La Liga leaders.
Barca, who recently equalled their best ever unbeaten run in the league as they sit seven points clear, are well drilled and balanced in both defence in attack – it is no fluke they are still in with a chance of the treble.
Conte’s side face a challenge to make the quarter-finals and it is important they do not let Barca get an away goal or two. I think this new-look Barca, far different to Pep Guardiola’s best XI, will execute their task perfectly and get the better over Chelsea in both legs.
The visitors are unsurprisingly favourites to win at Stamford Bridge, so it is better value to look at Barca to win with over 2.5 goals at 11/5 or the Luis Suarez to score and Barcelona to win double, which can be backed at 2/1.
Eden Hazard could be key to Chelsea's hopes, that he steals the show ahead of Lionel Messi, but I cannot see anything but a positive result for the hosts.
- Chelsea and Barcelona are facing each other for the 13th time in the Champions League, the fifth-most played fixture in the competition. They hadn’t played each other since April 2012 – Chelsea won 3-2 on aggregate.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their last seven Champions League games against Barcelona (W2 D5).
- However, Barcelona hold the advantage in knockout ties, having eliminated the Blues on three occasions. Chelsea progressed in the two other ties.
- Barcelona have won only one of their six away games against Chelsea in the Champions League (D1 L4), it was in February 2006 (2-1). They have also never kept a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge.
- Chelsea will attempt to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2013/14. However, they are winless in their last six knockout games (D3 L3).
- Barcelona finished top of their group for the 11th consecutive season, the longest run in the history of the Champions League.
- However, Barcelona have reached the Champions League semi-finals only once in the last four seasons. They had made it to the semis in each of the previous six campaigns.
- Barcelona were one of four teams to remain unbeaten in this season’s Champions League group stages, alongside Besiktas, Liverpool and Tottenham.
- Barcelona also have the best defensive record in the Champions League this season, conceding only one goal in six games.
- However, Barcelona have scored only one goal in their last five away games in the Champions League, an own goal by Sporting Lisbon’s Sebastian Coates.
- Eden Hazard has scored three goals and delivered two assists in his last five Champions League games.
- Lionel Messi has played 655 minutes against Chelsea in the Champions League but has yet to score. Against no other team has he played that many minutes without ever finding the net.
- Luis Suarez has failed to score in the last 791 minutes of play in the Champions League, his longest drought in the competition. His last goal dates back to March 2017 against Paris SG.
- In fact, Alvaro Morata and Luis Suarez are the two biggest underperformers in the Champions League this season compared to their Expected Goals (xG). Based on the quality of their chances, Morata has an xG of 4.2 goals (1 actual goal) and Suarez 3.1 (0 actual goal).
Bayern Munich v Besiktas (1945 GMT, BT Sport 3)
By Nick Hext
Bayern Munich are the huge odds-on favourites at 1/6 to get the advantage when they host Besiktas in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie.
There's reason to believe though that the Turkish champions won't let the Bundesliga kings have it all their own way.
Besiktas finished top of their group to reach the last 16 when besting Porto, RB Leipizig and Monaco, winning on the road at all three of those clubs.
That made them the first Turkish club to win a Champions League group and they would have hoped for a better draw than taking on rampant Bayern, who are out to claim their 14th win in a row in all competitions.
Jupp Heynckes' "safe pair of hands" - as I believe they contractually have to be known - have made certain of another Bundesliga title for Bayern, they are 19 points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund, and they are a major contender at 11/2 in the outright odds to win the Champions League.
Besiktas though have a better chance than odds of 25/1 for the win at the Allianz Arena suggests.
They are in a three-way tussle to retain their Super Lig crown, sitting third level on points with second-placed Galatasaray and two points behind leaders Istanbul Basaksehir.
Only one defeat has been suffered in their last 21 games and Anderson Talisca, 18 months into a two-year loan from Benfica, is the player to watch.
The 24-year-old has netted 13 goals this season and bids aplenty can be expected for his services during the summer.
I reckon Talisca can help Besiktas find the back of the net in Germany and Bayern's defence isn't at its strongest.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is expected to miss the rest of the season through injury and Bayern with Sven Ulreich between the sticks haven't kept a clean sheet in their last four matches at home.
Werder Breman and Hoffenheim both managed to net twice against Bayern when falling to defeat at the end of last month and I like 15/8 for the Heynckes' side to win with Besiktas getting on the scoresheet.
Bayern are a hard side to stop and are rightly big favourites for the win but close to even-money for Besiktas with a three-goal start on the handicap also looks generous.
- Bayern Munich and Besiktas’ only previous encounter was in the 1997/98 Champions League group stages. The Bavarians won both games 2-0.
- Bayern Munich have reached the Champions League semi-finals in six of the last eight seasons. Meanwhile, this is the first time Besiktas have reached the knockout stages of the competition.
- Bayern Munich have won their last four Champions League games, the longest current run in the competition.
- At the Allianz Arena, Bayern Munich have won 19 of their last 20 Champions League games, the only exception coming against Real Madrid in last season’s quarter final (1-2). They have also scored three goals in each of their three home games this season.
- Besiktas are the only side to have won all three of their away games in the Champions League this season.
- Besiktas were also one of four teams to remain unbeaten in this season’s Champions League group stages, alongside Barcelona, Liverpool and Tottenham.
- Eighty per cent of the goals conceded by Besiktas have come before half-time, the highest ratio in the Champions League group stages this season (4 out of 5).
- Robert Lewandowski has scored 17 goals in his last 16 Champions League appearances at the Allianz Arena. Of the players to have featured in at least 20 knockout games, he has the second best goals per game (0.68) behind Cristiano Ronaldo (0.79).
- Anderson Talisca has scored four goals in six Champions League games this season, that’s as many goals as in his three previous seasons (14 games).
- Jupp Heynckes, winner of two Champions League titles as manager (Real Madrid 1998, Bayern Munich 2013), has won 71 per cent of his games in the competition (29 out of 41), the second best ratio after Luis Enrique (73%) among managers to have taken charge of at least 30 games.
- Besiktas boss Senol Gunes has lost only two of his 18 games as manager in the Champions League (W6 D10).
Posted at 1810 GMT on 19/02/18.