Chelsea lost 3-0 to a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona last night, but they produced a much better display than the scoreline suggests.
There’s only so much anyone can do to stop Messi when he’s in that form. The Blues didn’t help themselves with costly errors at the back though.
Antonio Conte will be encouraged by the way his side used the ball. They controlled the game for long spells in the second half.
Chelsea have struggled to find their rhythm recently. Conte has tried Eden Hazard in a false nine role without much success.
Giroud could be key
They looked much more comfortable with Olivier Giroud up front against Barca. His presence allowed Hazard to play in his usual spot on the left. Willian had licence to fly forward with speed on the other flank.
It could offer a template for the rest of the season. Giroud’s aerial prowess makes him an ideal target for Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses’ crosses. And he’s got the technical ability to play quick one-twos with Hazard and Willian.
Plenty to play for
Now they’re out of Europe, Chelsea will need to raise their game in domestic competition. They’re 2/1 to finish in the top four. They’re 11/10 favourites to win their FA Cup quarter-final tie against Leicester City this weekend too.
The Premier League champions went toe-to-toe with Barcelona and may have come out on top if it wasn’t for Messi. If they can play that well in the coming weeks, they’ve still got a chance to end the season on a high.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication