THE Champions League continues this Wednesday as Barcelona welcome Chelsea to the Nou Camp. Ben Levene (@BenLevene96) shares his best bets.
Barcelona v Chelsea | Wednesday 14th March 2018, 19:45 | BT Sport
Barcelona approach this game as shorter than 1/2 favourites. The Catalan giants have La Liga all but wrapped up as they boast an eight-point lead, while they’re also in the final of the Copa del Rey.
Ernesto Valverde’s team are unbeaten at home this season, winning 18 of 20 games. They’ve kept 14 clean sheets during that time and are playing with added steel this season.
Barca will line up in a 4-4-1-1 system, with Lionel Messi operating behind Luis Suarez. The five-time Balon D’or winner has been directly involved in 36 of Barcelona’s 72 La Liga goals and is looking just as classy as ever.
N’golo Kante will likely be tasked with nullifying the Argentine, and I expect this to be a theme at the Nou Camp this Wednesday.
Goals at a premium?
In the first leg preview we identified that Chelsea have the ability to remain competitive in the big games. Even when they were poor away to Man City, they only lost 1-0.
Despite the usual stereotype, 10 of Barcelona’s last 12 games have seen Under 2.5 Goals. Only one of their seven home goals in the Champions League group stage came before half-time, which represents the fact they are more organised, robust and patient than ever.
They recently beat Atletico Madrid 1-0, and both legs of their Copa del Rey tie with Valencia saw Under 2.5 Goals. Five of Barcelona’s last seven Champions League games have seen fewer than three goals, including each of their last four.
If we turn to the Betfair Exchange, Under 3 Asian Goals is 5/6 and sees our bet void if exactly three are scored. Barcelona can’t afford to concede, so a low scoring encounter could be on the cards.
After surrendering their lead and an away goal at Stamford Bridge, the onus is on Antonio Conte’s Chelsea to find the net at the very least. This is in interesting prospect and makes their approach difficult to assess.
In-form Willian can make his mark
If they do get on the scoresheet, then the in-form Willian may well be at the heart of it.
The Brazilian opened the scoring in the reverse leg, as well as hitting the woodwork. He was the Blues’ biggest threat on that occasion, and it was no one off. Willian has scored five of Chelsea’s last eight goals, finding the net in four of his last five.
He’s not afraid to pull the trigger, and his free-kick tacking ability is a bonus. The 6/1 available in the Anytime Goalscorer market looks a shade too big and is worth half a stake
Barcelona v Chelsea – Under 3 Asian Goals (5/6 Betfair Exchange)
Barcelona v Chelsea – Willian to score at anytime (6/1 Paddy Power)