After eight games and 29 shots, Lionel Messi is yet to score against Chelsea – can the Barcelona forward finally end his greatest jinx in the Champions League this week?
"There are players here who hate Chelsea more than Real Madrid. I never thought I would hear myself say that. We would rather play Arsenal, Manchester United or anyone else than be on the pitch with Chelsea."
Those words of a 19-year-old Messi to News of the World have been doing the rounds ever since Barcelona were drawn against Chelsea in the last 16.
Since Messi graced the Nou Camp turf, the two sides have met eight times over four different Champions League campaigns, with the ties delivering high drama thanks to needless red cards and later than late goals (four of the games have seen goals in the 90th minutes or later).
What’s most surprising about this rivalry however, is how a now 30-year-old Messi has failed to score against the Blues – making it comfortably his longest barren run against a single club, domestically or in Europe.
Messi is yet to score against in Champions League...
- Chelsea (8 games played)
- Rubin Kazan (4)
- Inter Milan (3)
- Liverpool (2)
- Benfica (2)
- Udinese (1)
Here, we review where it’s gone wrong for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner and analyse the Argentine’s form heading into Tuesday’s first leg.
2005-06: Last 16 – Barcelona beat Chelsea 3-2 (agg)
On their path to Champions League glory in 2006, Barcelona overcame Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge before battling to a 1-1 draw in the return leg. But while Samuel Eto’o and Ronaldinho both helped Barca progress, Messi was denied by Petr Cech on four occasions. But that’s just two games, this was no barren run…
2006-07: Group A – Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona; Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea
That run extended to four games later that year in the following season’s group stages. Messi and Barca drew a blank as Didier Drogba helped Chelsea edge their first meeting, while a 2-2 draw featured 10 yellow cards, goals from Deco, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Frank Lampard and Drogba, but not a single attempt for the Argentine...
2008-09: Semi-final – Barcelona beat Chelsea 1-1 (agg) on away goals
Messi failed to find the target again in their opening-leg stalemate at the Nou Camp, but he at least turned provider for Andres Iniesta in the third minute of stoppage time in the second leg, after Chelsea were denied numerous penalty shouts. Messi went on to score in the 2-0 final win over Manchester United, but again, he came up short against Chelsea – a jinx was starting to take shape…
2011-12: Semi-final – Chelsea beat Barcelona 3-2 (agg)
In 2012, it was all-but confirmed. After losing the first leg 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, a quite-remarkable clash followed at the Nou Camp. A John Terry red card was sandwiched between two Barca goals, but Ramires endeavoured to chip Chelsea ahead on away goals before half-time.
And then, with 63 goals in all competitions behind him already that season, Messi had the opportunity to put Barca in front on aggregate and end his Chelsea hoodoo in one swoop from the penalty spot.
However, his effort crashed against the bar, while Cech went on to tip another effort onto the post. It was simply not meant to be for Messi and Barcelona that evening, with Fernando Torres sealing the victory in ‘Unbelievable!’ fashion.
So… ninth time’s a charm?
Messi will look to banish the curse at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, and he will be buoyed by his recent showings on English soil.
A familiar tale had been brewing for Messi in England – he had failed to find the target in his first eight matches at Premier League grounds – but since Barcelona last faced Chelsea in 2012, he has scored four goals in four games.
Messi’s record in England since 2012
- 2012: Chelsea (L 0-1), 0 goals
- 2014: Man City (W 2-0), 1 goal
- 2015: Man City (L 1-2), 0 goals
- 2016: Arsenal (W 2-0), 2 goals
- 2016: Man City (L 1-3), 1 goal
On top of this ever-improving record, the little Argentine heads into the tie with 29 goals from 37 games in all competitions this season, scoring in seven of his last 10 La Liga games.
There has been no sign of Messi slowing down in 2018, as he has scored eight goals in 12 games since the New Year, while also providing a further six assists.
He will also take heart from Chelsea’s current misery, with the Premier League champions winning just four of 12 games this year. Seven goals conceded in their last three league games alone will have Messi licking his lips.
Given Chelsea’s stuttering form, surely there is no greater opportunity for him to break this mightiest of ducks. Over to you, Messi…
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