Lionel Messi and Didier Drogba..

Didier Drogba reveals the surprising approach Chelsea took to Messi in 2012

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Football News

There was a Lionel Messi-shaped elephant in the room when Chelsea drew Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16 draw on Monday.

For all the blows Chelsea and Barca have exchanged in Europe over recent decades, the latter's prized asset has never actually scored in that fixture. For a man who's faced Chelsea eight times and mustered 29 attempts, it's an anomalously poor record for Messi.

Antonio Conte will be hoping to replicate some of the effective approaches from the past that have nullified the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, in the hope it won't be ninth time lucky.

Given the form Messi finds himself in already this season - with 21 goals for club and country - Chelsea will have to dig deep and the approach of 2012 will serve as a shining case study.

On their way to a historic Champions League victory, Chelsea achieved the seemingly improbable and traversed the challenge of Pep Guardiola's Barcelona across two legs.

The Blues kept Messi under lock and key during a tense game at Stamford Bridge with Didier Drogba's first-half strike proving the winner.

Goals from Fernando Torres and Ramires at the Nou Camp were enough in a 2-2 draw weeks later as Messi failed to score, even striking the cross bar from the penalty spot.

Just how did they do it, though, and can Chelsea replicate it?

Well, Drogba gave a rather interesting insight into Roberto Di Matteo's preparation for the match back in 2012 at the unveiling of his move to Shanghai Shenhua. It seems the less Messi is mentioned, the better.

The Ivorian revealed: "When we were about to play against [Barcelona], we watched a lot of video," per

"We knew we were playing the best team in the world. So for us playing this game, especially when we came from Napoli and we should have been out a long time ago, we were lucky to be there but we played hard as well."

Di Matteo applied a heavy impetus on learning the tropes and tendencies of every player, barring Messi.

He continued: "So when we watched the video, the manager wasn't showing Messi. At the end, you could see the important players.

"The ones who scored and created assists, the most consistent guys. With Messi, he just said that he had 61 goals. We all started laughing. We knew we were in for a difficult night but we did our best." 

Conventional? No. Effective? Yes.

So, as far as Conte is concerned, it's maybe for the best that Messi stays the elephant in the room.

Roberto Di Matteo
Didier Drogba

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