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Chelsea held by Barcelona


Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw in the home leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie against Barcelona.

Willian opened the scoring in the second-half after twice coming close, but the Blues were pegged back by a Lionel Messi equaliser a few minutes later.

Antonio Conte named a side that was full of defensive strength and creativity. Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger formed a defensive three in front of Thibaut Courtois in goal.

Cesc Fabregas and N'Golo Kante started in midfield, flanked by Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso. Willian, Pedro and Eden Hazard played as a front three.

The 3-4-3 formation was set up to stop Barcelona from creating chances, and it worked brilliantly, limiting the visitors to only two shots on target all match.

Chelsea, on the other, came very close twice to scoring twice in the first-half.

Both times, Willian's strike beat the goalkeeper but bounced off the post.

The first shot, which came after the Brazilian had made space with a burst of pace, struck Marc-Andre ter Stegen's left post. The second, from a similar position just outside the box, hit the other upright and bounced out.

Willian was left rubbing his head in frustration.

The Chelsea attacker didn't give up, however, and made the breakthrough just after the hour-mark.

Willian picked up the ball in a pocket of space outside the area and curled a fantastic shot around three players and into the bottom corner.

Chelsea continued to defend brilliantly, but a small error gave Barca the breakthrough they needed.

Christensen, who was a rock for the rest of the match, played a loose pass across the box, which Andres Iniesta pounced on, releasing Messi with a fast ball.

if there's one player you don't want to let have space and time in your penalty box, it's Lionel Messi. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner made no mistake, firing it into the net.

Despite ending in a draw, the game has given the Blues a lot of confidence ahead of the return leg at the Camp Nou.

‘I think we were very close to playing the perfect game,' said Conte after the game. 'I think we paid for one mistake but as you know against this opponent, and players like Messi, Iniesta and Suarez, if you make a mistake you pay.'

‘It’s a pity because at the end of the game we are disappointed with the final result. We hit the post twice with Willian. There is a bit of disappointment but this game must give us a lot of confidence to trust that in the second leg the qualification is open.

‘It won’t be easy, we must be realistic. They showed they are a fantastic team but we showed that if we are ready to work very hard together defensively, but continue to have the right feeling with the ball and create chances to score, we can try to do something incredible at the Nou Camp.’

Chelsea travel to Barcelona for the second leg on 14 March, but before then the Blues have two big away games against the big Manchester clubs, starting with a trip to Old Trafford on Sunday. Check out BridgeKids for a preview before then!

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