Barcelona v Chelsea: Match Preview

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Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has trained ahead of their crunch semi-final second-leg encounter with Barcelona and is expected to feature.

The Blues take a slender 1-0 lead to the Nou Camp as they look to eliminate the reigning Champions League holders and competition favourites. Drogba sat out Chelsea's 0-0 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday as he nursed a knee injury, but travelled to Spain with the rest of the squad. The Ivorian scored the only goal of the game at the Bridge to hand Chelsea a slim advantage going into the second-leg and his presence could be key to Chelsea's success this evening.

Waiting in the wings should Drogba miss out is Fernando Torres, who enjoys a good goalscoring record against Barca from his time in La Liga with Atletico Madrid. Interim Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo rested eight players at Arsenal from the 11 which started the first-leg, with an eye on this fixture, although Cole, Mikel and Mata came off the bench in the second half at the Emirates.

For the Catalans, Barca boss Pep Guardiola may recall Gerard Pique as he looks to nullify the threat posed by Drogba and the Chelsea forward line. The former-Manchester United defender missed the first leg in London as well as Barca's 2-1 home defeat against Real Madrid at the weekend through injury.

That defeat at the Nou Camp also meant that Guardiola's side suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time in nearly three years. Cesc Fabregas also sat out El Clasico with Pique and should make his return to the starting 11 in this crucial must-win match for the Catalonian outfit.

Di Matteo braced for Blues battle

Barca certainly posses the firepower to find the net tonight and Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo believes his side must score at the Nou Camp if they are to have any hope of progressing to Munich.

The interim Blues boss told reporters: "The tie is half-time, it's 50-50 - both teams still have the same chance to go through. I do think we will have to try to score. It will be difficult to just play for a goalless draw."

With Lionel Messi fully recovered from a gastric illness, Barca hope the Champions League top scorer will recapture his stellar form and fire his side past a spirited Chelsea team. The outlook looks ominous for the Blues as Barca have scored in every home game since their goalless draw with Sevilla in October. With the league now seemingly out of their reach, retaining the Champions League takes on added importance for the Spanish side.

However, while Barca have hit a rough patch of form for their standards in recent weeks, Chelsea have gone from strength to strength under Di Matteo. Since the former-Chelsea midfielder replaced Andre Villas-Boas, Chelsea have lost only once, a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

Di Matteo now has the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Avram Grant, the only other Chelsea manager ever to have guided the Blues to a Champions League final. A victory for either side sets up a clash with Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in Munich on 19 May.

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Didier Drogba
European News
Fernando Torres

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