Vastavam web: As unlikely as it sounds, Lionel Messi is still waiting to score his first goal against Chelsea after drawing a blank in eight previous Champions League matches.The five-time World Player of the Year is likely to get another chance to break his duck this week and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes the past will count for little when Barcelona visits Stamford Bridge tomorrow.”We must have great respect but at the same time we must be excited to play this type of game and take on this type of challenge. It wont be easy because we know very well this player, we are talking about one of the best in the world.”
The teams have produced some epic games in the past although they have not met in the Champions League since Chelsea pulled off a remarkable backs-to-the-wall semifinal victory over Barcelona on the way to winning the trophy in 2012.Two weeks ago, the prospect of a Chelsea win over Barca would have been unthinkable after Contes men had slumped to successive defeats by two of the Premier Leagues lesser lights.The London club was still smarting from a 3-0 home loss against Bournemouth when it travelled to Watford and succumbed to an embarrassing 4-1 reverse.
Chelsea has got back on track since then, though, easing past West Bromwich Albion 3-0 in the league last Monday before swatting aside second-tier Hull 4-0 in the FA Cup four days later.Cesc Fabregas will also be desperate to play against his former team but may have to settle for a spot on the bench.
Barca has lost only once in 38 matches this season since falling in the Spanish Super Cup to Real Madrid in August. It has a seven-point lead at the top of La Liga and has reached the final of the Copa del Rey.Messi is having another stellar campaign, scoring 27 times in all competitions, and he helped set up two goals in Saturdays 2-0 win at Eibar.