Chelsea’s form has been astonishing since Roberto Di Matteo took the charge as blues manager in late February. But Di Matteo’s efficiency will be really put into test when Chelsea take on the Mighty Barcelona in the champions league semi-finals.
After taking charge as the new Chelsea manager, Di Matteo changed his predecessor AVB’s 4-2-1-3 formation to 4-2-3-1, which has been working for him effectively. The result at Stamford Bridge return leg against Napoli has given confidence to Di Matteo about his tactical line-up. Since Di Matteo has taken charge, Chelsea have lost only 1 game out of 10, which quite praise-worthy.
But Di Matteo’s tactics will be really put to test during the semi-final clash against Barcelona. Though Terry is in the injury list of players, he was kept on the bench in the premier league match against Fulham and is expected to play against Barcelona. In case he doesn’t feature in the Barcelona clash (probability of this event happening is still high), then obviously Gary Cahill will be brought into the field in his place. The former Bolton defender has proved his worth on many occasions since arriving at Stamford Bridge in the January window.
Lionel Messi has scored more than 50 goals this on-going season and this little giant will be a real danger to the Chelsea defense. The way Chelsea defenders tackle Messi will hold the key for the blues. In the quarter-final game, the way Nesta and Mexes handled Messi was fabulous. Cahill and Luiz should follow the example of the Milan CBs. Cahill should follow Messi each and every second in the game and he should ruffle the path of the Argentine often.
Isaac Cuenca will most probably be getting another chance to start as this young man had made a good impression at Camp Nou in the quarter-final game. Luiz and Ivanovic should double up their efforts in stopping him. Ramires and Meireles were influential throughout this season, their long-range passing efficiency, goal scoring abilities and tackling style have been excellent. These two midfielders have to provide their best in tackling the most dangerous pair, Xavi and Iniesta.
Though he is 33 years old, Lampard’s spunk as a guerilla fighter is incredible. The English Midfielder hasn’t lost his form and pace yet, Lampard’s role takes the centre stage especially during counter attacks. He could guarantee his striker some chances by providing fine passes.
Abidal’s absence has forced Puyol to play as left-back and Maschereno as Centre-back. As a right winger, Sturridge will be facing a tough task to go past the veteran Puyol. On the other side, Mata needs to play a clever game to take the ball beyond Dani Alves. At the same time, Mata should be quick and smart in tackling the Brazilian full back as he can cause serious damage with his pace.
At some point in the game, Maschereno will provide chances for Chelsea to score as the Argentine is not a regular defender. Chelsea players should take advantage of Mascherno’s mistakes. Blues cannot affford to miss even a single scoring opportunity if they are to stay alive in the competition.