Benfica

Benfica slideshow

Nelson Semedo arrived at Barcelona last summer from Benfica (AFP Photo/MIGUEL RIOPA)
Nelson Semedo arrived at Barcelona last summer from Benfica
Nelson Semedo arrived at Barcelona last summer from Benfica (AFP Photo/MIGUEL RIOPA)
Nelson Semedo arrived at Barcelona last summer from Benfica
Nelson Semedo arrived at Barcelona last summer from Benfica
Nelson Semedo arrived at Barcelona last summer from Benfica
Jonas scored two late goals to lead Benfica's 3-1 comeback win at Pacos Ferreira on Saturday, keeping it close to Portuguese league leader FC Porto.
Jonas nets 2 late goals to keep Benfica in title hunt
Jonas scored two late goals to lead Benfica's 3-1 comeback win at Pacos Ferreira on Saturday, keeping it close to Portuguese league leader FC Porto.
Jonas scored two late goals to lead Benfica's 3-1 comeback win at Pacos Ferreira on Saturday, keeping it close to Portuguese league leader FC Porto.
Jonas nets 2 late goals to keep Benfica in title hunt
Jonas scored two late goals to lead Benfica's 3-1 comeback win at Pacos Ferreira on Saturday, keeping it close to Portuguese league leader FC Porto.
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s players Andre Almeida and Rafa celebrate after scoring a goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s players Andre Almeida and Rafa celebrate after scoring a goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s players Andre Almeida and Rafa celebrate after scoring a goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica's players celebrate after scoring the third goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica's players celebrate after scoring the third goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica's players celebrate after scoring the third goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s players celebrate after scoring the second goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s players celebrate after scoring the second goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s players celebrate after scoring the second goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s player Jonas (C) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the second goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s player Jonas (C) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the second goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s player Jonas (C) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the second goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s player Jonas (C) scores the second goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at a Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s player Jonas (C) scores the second goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at a Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s player Jonas (C) scores the second goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at a Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s player Jonas celebrates after scoring the second goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s player Jonas celebrates after scoring the second goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
MFA. Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- SL Benfica´s player Jonas celebrates after scoring the second goal against Pacos de Ferreira during their Portuguese First League soccer match held at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Northern of Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Ricardo (2-L) in action against Benfica's Rafa Silva (C) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Ricardo (2-L) in action against Benfica's Rafa Silva (C) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Ricardo (2-L) in action against Benfica's Rafa Silva (C) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Ricardo (R) in action against Benfica's Rafa Silva (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Ricardo (R) in action against Benfica's Rafa Silva (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Ricardo (R) in action against Benfica's Rafa Silva (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Quinones (R) in action against Benfica's Andre Almeida (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Quinones (R) in action against Benfica's Andre Almeida (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Quinones (R) in action against Benfica's Andre Almeida (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Gian (R) in action against Benfica's Jonas (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Gian (R) in action against Benfica's Jonas (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Gian (R) in action against Benfica's Jonas (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Miguel Vieira (R) in action against Benfica's Rafa Silva (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Miguel Vieira (R) in action against Benfica's Rafa Silva (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Miguel Vieira (R) in action against Benfica's Rafa Silva (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Luiz Phellype (R) in action during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Luiz Phellype (R) in action during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Luiz Phellype (R) in action during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Ricardo (R) in action against Benfica's Andre Almeida (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Ricardo (R) in action against Benfica's Andre Almeida (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Ricardo (R) in action against Benfica's Andre Almeida (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Luiz Phellype (2-L) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the 1-0 lead during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Luiz Phellype (2-L) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the 1-0 lead during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Luiz Phellype (2-L) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the 1-0 lead during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Luiz Phellype (L) celebrates after scoring the 1-0 lead during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Luiz Phellype (L) celebrates after scoring the 1-0 lead during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Luiz Phellype (L) celebrates after scoring the 1-0 lead during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Ruben Micael (R) in action against Benfica's Andrija Zivkovic (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Ruben Micael (R) in action against Benfica's Andrija Zivkovic (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
Pacos De Ferreira (Portugal), 24/02/2018.- Pacos de Ferreira's Ruben Micael (R) in action against Benfica's Andrija Zivkovic (L) during the Portuguese First League soccer match between Pacos de Ferreira and Benfica Lisbon at Mata Real stadium in Pacos Ferreira, Portugal, 24 February 2018. (Lisboa) EFE/EPA/MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Lionel Messi punishes single mistake to take crucial away goal to Nou Camp
When it finally came, perhaps ­Chelsea thought that the first goal Lionel Messi would score against them after all those games would be something truly remarkable, one of those moments that defied explanation and could simply be filed away as an act of genius that no mortal could stop. Instead, the first goal Messi scored against Chelsea in nine games and 730 minutes – the 98th of his Champions League career – came from a rank poor pass from Andreas Christensen, the kind of hostage to fortune that might well have been converted by West ­Bromwich Albion. That it came amid one of the most intense, well-drilled Chelsea performances in Europe of recent years was Antonio Conte’s misfortune – of all the club’s meetings with Barcelona in recent ­history and it had to be his. At the point Messi scored, 75 minutes into a classic Champions League tie, Barcelona had enjoyed around 75 per cent of the possession and zero per cent of the goals – the tie itself was tipped marginally in favour of the home team by virtue of a second-half Willian strike. Conte’s team had played ­Barcelona off the back foot, but they had played them brilliantly and Messi himself had not been ­afforded enough of the space he usually seeks out. When the equaliser came, it felt like a gift. There are so many ways in which Messi and Barcelona can break the hearts of their opponents and perhaps they would have done so anyway at the Nou Camp on March 14, regardless of what might have been achieved by Chelsea in this home leg. But this magnificent team, unbeaten in their domestic league this season, do not need any assistance to score a goal and, unfortunately, that was what Chelsea’s young Danish defender gave them. Barcelona players gather around Messi Credit: Getty Images Messi celebrated with the vehemence of a man who seemed to know that was one small kink ironed out of the great history he has written, and you could sense the deflation among the home support. “If you make mistakes against opponents like Messi and Andres Iniesta, you pay,” Conte said later. The Chelsea manager rightly ­refused to blame Christensen, ­arguing that it was a fine balance at all times between youth and experience, to try to find the right players to carry out his game plan. He was so close to getting it right, including the decision to drop Gary Cahill in favour of Christensen, and there was still a spark of hope in Conte afterwards that his team can reach the quarter-finals, however difficult it might be. Certainly the form of Willian suggests he is reaching top gear with a brilliant, brave performance in which he carried the fight to Barca at all times. This was not a night for attacking players to stand around with their hands on their hips complaining about lack of service and so Willian worked hard for every chance, struck a post twice in the first half and buried his chance with the one decent sight of goal that he was afforded. He had looked impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup on Friday, but it is one thing doing it against the Championship strugglers and another stepping it up against Barcelona. For a start, Hull had 18 per cent more possession than Chelsea managed against ­Barcelona in this first leg. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona That was always going to be a problem and there were periods of the first half when Chelsea had to adjust to life without the ball. Barcelona finished with around 73 per cent of possession over the 90 minutes – depending on whose statistics you read – and yet by the end Conte’s players had adapted well to a new way of playing that involved Willian and Eden Hazard breaking on their opposition. They tried to get out quickly and switch the play when possible, with Antonio Rudiger on the left side of the defence often looking to hit a long diagonal in the direction of Victor Moses on the right wing. Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for Barcelona from deep midfield, but they did so at a safe distance as far as Chelsea were concerned. Rakitic rode his luck in the first half after an early booking for a foul on Willian and two challenges after that which could have got him in trouble. Messi was in captivating form, dribbling past players at will Credit: GETTY IMAGES As for Messi, we were treated to a few moments in the first half when he spun and ran at Chelsea, and one glorious feint which had Rudiger standing on the wrong foot as the great man glided past him. Messi is at the stage of his career when the reverence for him in the opposition is unmistakable, and there are few on the pitch who can recall a time when he was not the king – even if on this occasion his goal was among the easier ones he has scored. The Barcelona possession count edged up past 80 per cent during the first half, with Conte urging his side forward, encouraging them to put pressure on the away team’s back four. Hazard dragged Barcelona’s defence left after 33 minutes and then Willian took the ball in space in the middle and hit a right-footed shot against Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left post. He clipped the other post eight minutes later. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal The rehabilitated Tottenham Hotspur old boy Paulinho had a quiet night, eventually substituted having headed wide a cross from Messi after 15 minutes. N’Golo Kante covered the breadth of the pitch and he was a formidable barrier against Barcelona, who were arguably at their least dangerous when they were attacking corners. It was from a Barcelona corner, claimed by Thibaut Courtois, that the Willian goal began. The Chelsea goalkeeper dropped the ball quickly at the feet of Cesc Fabregas, from where it went left to Hazard, right to Willian and, ­eventually, Chelsea’s corner was won on the left side. Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) Hazard spotted Willian outside the Barcelona area in a promising amount of space, and the Brazilian stepped past Busquets to shape a right-footed shot inside Ter ­Stegen’s left post. Before the Barcelona equaliser Chelsea might have had a second when Willian broke down the right and elected not to pass to his ­unlikely breakaway partner, Kante. From Christensen’s ill-advised pass across the face of his goal that Cesar Azpilicueta was just inches from reaching, Iniesta created the goal for Messi. In that moment the tie changed, and it had taken only one slip of concentration. 10:11PM Player ratings I loved Busquets, Messi and Willian this evening. But my opinion matters not! Behold: our official player ratings for the game this evening. Chelsea vs Barcelona player ratings 10:03PM Antonio Conte post-match "I think that (sighs) that we were very close to a perfect game, only one mistake, and when you make a mistake against Barcelona you to pay. It's a pity because I'm very proud of my players, they followed what we prepared, and it's a pity. We were a bit unlucky. "I think when you to play this game you must have a plan, respect the opponent and understand the best way to face this team. Our plan was really good, the effort of the players was great. Maybe we deserved more tonight. "I think in the second leg we have to play a game against Barcelona. As you know this team is very strong but the final result... yeh the qualification is open. It's not simple but our performance must give confidence to try to do something of credible." 9:50PM Cesc and Willian Fabregas "Such a shame really. We were very good, went with a game plan and executed it very well. They are one of the best teams in the world but we played so well. Overall fantastic performance, in the end, shame. We should be proud but i think even 1-0, 2-0 would have been fantastic but at the Nou Camp they are very strong. We will have to play another excellent game to go through. "90 minutes at the Camp Nou defending is basically a suicide mission." Willian "I'm happy with the goal but a little bit sad with the result. I think we deserve to win. They had more possession but we had chance to score. "We were a bit unlucky. We look forward to the other games." 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.
 9:39PM FULL TIME Chelsea punished by Lionel Messi, the greatest football in the known universe, after playing a near-perfect defensive 90 minutes. That away goal could, and likely will prove crucial. As for the individual stars: Hazard was excellent for Chelsea but Messi is on a different level. Willian caught the eye too - after a performance like that it's amazing that he starts so many games on the bench. 9:36PM 90 mins +3 Morata is penalised for handball when it looked more like he'd just swung a leg at the thing and gotten away with a bad touch. He briefly considers shouting about it and then remembers that he's already on a yellow card. A yellow card for shouting about something. 9:33PM 90 mins +1 Busquets trips Hazard with a cynical foul and is booked. 9:32PM 90 mins Incredibly, against all odds, Suarez and Alba are both fine to continue. 9:31PM 89 mins Alba pulls off a lovely little bit of skill and has his heel clipped. Suarez is tackled by Drinkwater. Both are rolling around the floor in mortal danger. Somebody please pray for these wounded soldiers. [/sarcasm] 9:29PM 87 mins Hazard wins a free-kick 30 yards out. Willian will put it into the area. Or will he?! No. Because he passes short to Hazard, who goes back to Willian, who finds Moses. Moses hacks at his shot and puts it straight out for a goal kick. Morata is booked for dissent, convinced it should be a corner. 9:27PM 85 mins Fabregas off for Drinkwater. That makes sense to put some energy in the midfield for the final few minutes - Chelsea cannot afford to concede another away goal! Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 9:25PM 83 mins Chelsea vs Barcelona Umtiti gives away a corner after Willian bursts forward at high speed on the counter-attack. It's taken quickly but Christensen's header back across the box doesn't find a teammate. Pedro off, Morata on for Chelsea. 9:24PM 81 mins Rudiger puts a heavy challenge on Roberto, putting his foot over the top of the ball into Roberto's standing leg with full force while the Barcelona player was running at full pace. That could so easily have ended horribly. Instead, Rudiger is booked and Busquets tells him off. That's about it. Roberto is fine to continue. 9:22PM 79 mins Suarez was booked in the aftermath of that goal for moaning about not being given a penalty before it. He had his heels clipped accidentally by Rudiger while running into the box, and threw himself to the ground immediately. Boooooo. 9:20PM GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Messi scores It's the first real mistake Chelsea have made all game and they've been punished! Christensen passes across his own defensive third, misses everyone and Iniesta runs onto it and has the chance to shoot... but passes back across to Messi, who sends Courtois the wrong way and finishes into the bottom corner. Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona (Lionel Messi, 75 min) 9:17PM 74 mins Credit: REUTERS Chelsea have a break on! Barcelona just cannot find space in behind to pass and are being forced to ping the ball about in front of two walls of Chelsea defenders. 9:15PM 72 mins Dembele is warming up on the touchline. Willian has to get more treatment on his bleeding face. 9:13PM 70 mins All of a sudden it looks like Chelsea might have men over on the counter-attack. Willian takes a half second too long to play a pass into the box - if he had done, Kante was one on one with the goalkeeper. Willian goes down to receive some treatment for a bleeding nose. And when I say treatment I mean sitting down with some tissues. 9:10PM 67 mins Messi is conducting play from a position between the Chelsea and defence, spraying passes around. Barcelona up the tempo of their passing. Messi gets the ball on the edge of the area and about three defenders follow him instantly to stop the shot. A stop-start doesn't fool them... Chelsea block. 9:07PM 65 mins Paulinho off, Aleix Vidal on. That should give Barca a little more on the right wing and let Roberto take up more central positions. 9:07PM GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Willian goal Brilliant from Willian! The corner is taken quickly, Fabregas finds Hazard, who ducks inside and passes to Willian. He stops then starts and out of nothing, has space to shoot. A hard, low shot curls into the bottom corner - Ter Stegen had no chance! Chelsea 1 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 62 min) 9:04PM 62 mins Messi finds Iniesta, who scoops the ball over the defence into the path of Alba's run. Moses cuts it out but accidentally heads behind and it's a corner again.... but Courtois catches easily. He looks long again and this time Hazard can control. Chelsea move up the pitch... take their time and work passes around the final third. Fabregas takes a half chance to shoot and conjures a corner from very little. 9:02PM 60 mins Courtois catches the corner, kicks the ball long looking for Hazard... and Barcelona have the ball again. 9:02PM 59 mins Suarez gets involved, takes a pass form Iniesta (after a frankly ridiculous first touch took iniesta past a tackle) and bursts away to the left of the box, He turns back and then Cruyff turns Christensen, winning space to cross into the middle. Corner. 9:00PM 56 mins Chelsea keeping things tight but they just cannot keep hold of the ball. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:57PM 53 mins Credit: GETY IMAGES Morata is warming up on the sidelines. Barcelona enjoying most of the possession... Iniesta chases a loose ball now and finds Suarez. He runs in behind and shoots from a wide angle... saved by Courtois! That was a superb effort considering where he took it on! Attempt Saved: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Luis Suárez, 53 min) 8:54PM 51 mins Great defending from Chelsea. Pedro tracks back to stop Messi turning everyone inside out, Paulinho blocks him, Fabregas tidies up and they work the ball forward. Hazard has his back to goal in the penalty area and goes down! Umtiti is tight to him... is that a penalty? The referee isn't interested. 8:52PM 49 mins Iniesta works hard by the Chelsea box to try and link the play but Azpilicueta is superb at the back and holds him off. He's playing further forward in this half and gets onto the ball again shortly after, deciding to lash a shot from distant at goal but slicing it way wide and high. 8:50PM 47 mins Barcelona start the second half the same way as the first, passing around the back. They get into Chelsea's half more urgently though and Roberto over hits a cross from wide right, which very nearly turns into a shot to the top corner! 8:48PM KICK OFF 2 chelsea kick off 2 We're back! How long until the deadlock is broken? Will it? Nobody knows! 8:44PM Chelsea staying nice and compact Chelsea are making the pitch as small as possible when defending and forcing Barcelona to pass around the final third from side to side looking for an opening. The danger is that at some point soon Messi or Iniesta are going to figure out a way to get a shot or through-ball away and the defence needs to be constantly aware as Messi in particular drifts from man to man. Both teams have defended pretty well and restricted the other to creating chances from quick turnovers. Willian's two shots were superb efforts but you can't plan to score from 25 yards against anyone, it's a welcome addition to the scoreline but generally, teams win games when they get the ball into the box for shots. I can see Conte bringing on one of his strikers after the 60th minute to offer an out ball and let Willian and Hazard run off him. It'll just take Barcelona to overcommit and a quick counter-attack could yield that one vital opening to score on the break. 8:32PM HALF TIME That's been ace to watch. Chelsea backed off until they felt a bit safer coming out of their hiding place and now it's finely poised. Hazard, Willian, Busquets and Messi have all been fantastic. 8:31PM 45 mins Stamford Bridge is noisy and Chelsea are growing into the match. Chelsea vs Barcelona shots on goal 8:29PM 43 mins Willian must have thought both of those strikes were goals the minute they left his boot. He's hit them both so well, (almost) perfect technique and then had to see the ball clang off the frame of goal. Hazard tries a powerful improvised volley from distance but fires over the bar. 8:27PM 41 mins Conte is still living the game through his players, yelling "GO GO GO!" to the forwards closest to him to make them run run run run run and close down Barcelona's defenders on the ball. Willian turns on the spot on the edge of the D as the ball falls to him and fires a shot at goal! OFF THE POST AGAIN! 8:25PM 39 mins Moses gives away a corner, it's hooked into the six yard box... and Pique jumps early, Rudiger seems to slip and then seems to grab Pique to stop himself falling. It's either that, or the gravity directly below Pique suddenly got really strong all of a sudden. 8:24PM 37 mins Barcelona are doubling up on Hazard whenever he gets on the ball, which seems like a fairly sensible plan. Both number 10s are the focal points of the attacks. Average touch positions (36 min) 8:21PM 35 mins Credit: PA Conte wants advantage to be played just as Chelsea have a decent counter-attacking chance on at the half way line and is furious that it isn't. 8:20PM 33 mins Busquets is such a great player. I won't go into the cliche but he's always in the right position to keep Barca's shape. Hazard comes away with the ball! Defenders race back to deal with him... he faces up, feints, and finds Willian. Willian takes the ball on and then bursts with pace to win some pace 20 yards out and SHOOOOOTS! OFF THE POST! What an effort! Post: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Willian, 33 min) So unlucky for Willian! 8:17PM 31 mins Alonso steps up... and Ter Stegen saves relatively easily, diving to his left and catching at waist-height. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 8:16PM 30 mins A beautiful flick from Willian nearly puts Pedro through on goal but Pique and Umtiti can pass out from the back. Conte is on his feet barking pressing instructions at the front three. And Willian is on the run! He skips past a challenge and has space to move into, Alonso is free on the left! It's a big chance! But Rakitic takes one for the team and fouls Willian about 25 yards out. This is an excellent free-kick position. 8:13PM 27 mins Barca have all the possession at the moment. Chelsea have dropped really deep towards their own goal, Barca pressing high to win the ball back on the rare occasions they don't have it. 8:11PM 24 mins Messi finds Iniesta with an unbelievable pass through the narrowest of gaps on the edge of the Chelsea area, the ball comes back across the box and Messi is just a fraction of a second behind it. Chelsea survive again! 8:08PM 22 mins Christensen's touch lets him down and he passes the ball straight out of play while looking for Azpilicueta, handing Barcelona a cheap corner. Rakitic goes short to Messi, who finds Rakitic again... and Pique's chip into the box is dealt with. Barcelona keep up the pressure in Chelsea's half. 8:06PM 20 mins Messi is seeing so much of the ball tonight. He's roaming around wherever he fancies it and is finding space all over. Barcelona's full-backs are tucking inside the pitch as they come forward, Paulinho going wide. Or at least that's what's happening when Roberto comes inside. 8:03PM 17 mins HUGE CHANCE! Paulinho misses from 12 yards as Messi finds space and chips into the area for the Brazilian to attack. He puts his head through the ball trying to put it back across goal but clumsily thumps it into the advertising boards wide of the goal. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Paulinho, 16 min) 8:00PM 15 mins This is promising for Chelsea! Hazard pulls out to the left, skins Roberto and darts inside the penalty area. His pull-back to Kante comes off the Frenchman's arm and Barca win a free-kick. Rudiger has been told to look for that diagonal pass out from the back but doesn't impress so much with his latest effort. Possession: Chelsea vs Barcelona 7:58PM 12 mins Credit: REUTERS Messi is taking up positions behind the striker like it's a 4-4-1-1. He's finding space between the lines of defence and midfield and is able to pick up the ball and run at goal by doing so. Busquets looks for Messi with a high ball over the top but it's straight out for a goal kick. 7:56PM 10 mins What a ball by Rudiger! He switches play from the left with a long searching pass and Moses wins a corner. All three centre-backs head forwards to attack it... and Rudiger leaps to win the header! Umiti leans into him, Pique is close... but Barca are lucky Rudiger's headed that wide. Messi breaks with the ball, is too fast for Pedro to catch, leaves Rudiger dizzy with a flash of skill and then feeds a pass out wide. The low cross is blocked and Alonso clears. 7:53PM 8 mins Willian dribbles through the middle and Alba blocks him, sending him tumbling to the floor. Free-kick about 30 yards out. Fabregas chips in... but it's headed away by the first man. 7:52PM 6 mins Chelsea pass around the Barca box, Hazard takes a touch and then springs to life before launching a shot on his left foot from 20 yards! It fizzes over the bar! Great effort. Miss: Chelsea 0 - 0 Barcelona (Eden Hazard, 5 min) 7:50PM 5 mins Chelsea have the chance to break! Messi is tackled by Azpilicueta with a strong sliding tackle and Willian carries the ball. Hazard is slightly ahead of him... but Barca defend well and absorb the brief spell of pressure. 7:49PM 3 mins Barcelona have the ball early on and pass it around for a bit. Barca are in a 4-4-2 at the moment, Chelsea a clear 3-4-3. Messi gets his first touch on the ball, plays a one-two and chips a dangerous cross from the left after darting in behind the defence. 7:46PM KICK OFF Chelsea kick-off And they're off! 7:43PM Here come the players! 7:37PM Lionel Messi back in 2005 That's his profile from Football Manager 2005. He turned out to be fairly decent even back then and was one of the famous 'wonderkids' who actually went on to fulfill at least some of the high potential their scouts had awarded. Now we get to see him on TV. Against Chelsea! I can confirm from personal experience that watching him play in real life is one of the most rewarding, electrifying experiences you can have. The entire crowd gets a buzz whenever he receives the ball, you can feel it on the back of your neck. Credit: REUTERS 7:32PM Messi can check another team off his list tonight The 12 teams Leo Messi has never scored against ���� Gramenet ���� Udinese ���� Cadiz ���� Real Murcia ���� Al Sadd ���� Girona �������������� Liverpool ���� Benfica ���� Xerez ���� Inter Milan ���� Rubin Kazan �������������� Chelsea pic.twitter.com/FdvHBci0KQ— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 20, 2018 7:28PM Remember this? The Don Andres Iniesta returns to the Stamford Bridge this week pic.twitter.com/wbhrJP7Prp— The Pep (@GuardiolaTweets) February 18, 2018 7:28PM Hazard wants to star Credit: REUTERS Matt Law wrote about Hazard yesterday for Telegraph Sport, here's what the Belgian had to say: “Every game I try and play my best football,” said Hazard. “Last year we didn't play Champions League, but this year we are back and I played a few good games: Atletico Madrid away, Roma, here against Madrid. You want to shine when you play the best in the world. If I want to reach that level, I need to play a great game.” 7:21PM Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Cesar Azpilicueta The ex-England star says that Azpilicueta is the 'best out and out defender' in the Premier League and he'll have a tough time this evening. Gary Lineker poses the question of how Chelsea cope with Leo Messi, Frank Lampard says going man to man is doomed to fail and Chelsea will tell their players to keep their shape and the closest to Messi has to "get tight, keep his head down and don't let him think he can do what he wants or the magic wand comes out". Lineker says "that's exactly what we were told for England against Maradona in 1986. It didn't work." 6:50PM Chelsea starting lineup No Giroud or Morata! Hazard starts as a false-nine/trequartista type role. Team to face Barcelona: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Morata. #CHEBARpic.twitter.com/lzHoGYN626— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 20, 2018 Courtois; Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Hazard, Pedro 6:42PM Barcelona starting lineup Barcelona ⚽️ Starting XI ���� #ChelseaBarçapic.twitter.com/XaBBne5N3s— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 20, 2018 Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Paulinho; Luis Suárez, Messi 6:23PM Good evening! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for this thoroughly exciting Champions League tie between two old foes of the very modern competition. It's Messi vs... Chelsea and we're liveblogging the whole thing right here, right now, onto your phones and tablets and computers. Forget that kid from the Apple advert, we know what computers are and you can use yours to read analysis and updates as we build up to, and follow, the action tonight. But what sort of action shall we see? Ali Tweedale wrote this excellent tactical preview of the match and I suggest you start your evening there: Chelsea beware: Why this version of Barcelona are so dangerous Team news should be in very shortly but it's expected all your favourites will be there: Messi, Hazard, Squirtle, He-Man, Jordi Alba - the whole gang! Fans are already making their way inside the stadium on a rather pleasant London evening, and both teams are in decent enough form (Barcelona especially!). The match promises to be great viewing. And as we all know, matches can't lie.