Tags Posts tagged with "Leo Messi"

Leo Messi

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Frank Lampard has said that he’s growing concerned about the situation on and off the pitch at former club Chelsea.

The ex midfielder is worried about the uncertainty surrounding the future of head coach Antonio Conte, who last week was strongly linked with replacing Unai Emery at PSG:

“The worrying thing is the negative talk around the club: the manager, the recruitment,” Lampard said on Match of the Day.

“They haven’t gone forward since last season and other clubs have.

“Yesterday [the win over Palace] will have been good for them but Barcelona will be a totally different task, they have the team to go there and defend and get them on the break but against Lionel Messi & Co. it will be very difficult.”

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Chelsea legend Frank Lampard won the Champions League with the Blues and the former midfielder believes Antonio Conte‘s side have now a chance to beat Barcelona at Camp Nou and continue the chase for this trophy also this season.

Can they win against Barcelona? I think so. Lampard told TalkSport.  “Chelsea were fantastic in the first leg and, of all the English teams in the Champions League, Chelsea do have the capabilities to be really organised and they have dangerous players on the counter-attack, particularly Eden Hazard  and Willian in his current form. If they can try and play the way they played at the Bridge, they’ve got a chance. It’s going to be a very tough game. When you go to the Nou Camp, Barcelona and especially Lionel Messi make it so difficult for you. But there’s certainly a fighting chance for Chelsea. They do have the ability to go there and get something.”

 

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Chelsea star Willian and Manchester United next rivals Chris Smalling and David De Gea have been named in UEFA Champions League team of the week.

The Brazilian was undoubtedly the Blues MVP against Barcelona, who’s also a player named: Leo Messi, who scored the equaliser at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Most of the players are from Bayern Munich, who trashed Turkish side Besiktas 5-0 on Tuesday night.

Here is the team of the week in full:

De Gea (Manchester United); Alaba (Bayern Munich), Smalling (Manchester United), Hummels (Bayern Munich); Cengiz Under (AS Roma), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk ), Willian (Chelsea), Kimmich (Bayern Munich); Messi (Barcelona), Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Muller (Bayern Munich).

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Ernesto ValverdeBarcelona‘s manager is happy with his team’s result tonight at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of the Champions League last 16.

Our performance? It seemed pretty good to me,” Valverde said after the game. “We went to a place where it’s difficult to play. [Chelsea] are the champions of the Premier and we carried their weight from the first whistle. They had some strong players who posed us problems on the counter, but they hardly had any chances. It’s a good result and I think we deserved the 1-1. It’s difficult when so many players group up against you. It’s difficult to find space. Therefore, you must fight back with quality, pace and good finishing. Did Messi drop too deep? Possibly, but they defended with five at the back. If we put five more up top, they’d defend with 10 players there and they’d enjoy the space as a result. We had to protect ourselves, so we’re happy in that sense. How do I see the return leg? There’s still a long way to go. That’ll be the decisive match. To some extent, they’ll be more obligated [to perform], but our approaches may be similar. Why Aleix and not Dembele? [Dembele’s] been out injured for a while, and for a match like this, Coaches go with the things they know best”. Aleix also gives us things, a different profile. When we’re faced with a match like this, I rely on certainties. I had to play Paulinho as a starter and then bring on Aleix Vidal for more depth. It wasn’t the time to experiment. That’s how I see it.”

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Tonight Andrés Iniesta wasn’t able to produce another “Iniestazo”, the equaliser of the infamous Champions League semifinal in 2009, but he returned the favour to his friend Leo Messi, who assisted him that night and that tonight could finally score his first goal ever agains the Blues.

Speaking after the game the Spanish star said:

The assist came out good, it went smoothly, we deserved the draw, who arrived only in the last minutes” the Barcelona captain claimed.

“Now we will try to win the tie at home.”

Asked if the Blaugrana are having too many issues in away games in this season, where they got many draws or even defeats, Iniesta commented:

“It’s obviously different to play home or away, but we played a good game anyway.

“In the Champions League everybody gives everything, mistakes are not allowed but of course at the Camp Nou we give our best.”

 

 

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A good Chelsea is stopped by Leo Messi, who scores his first goal ever to the Blues, and get only a 1-1 in the first leg of this Champions League last of 16.

Antonio Conte‘s side were really unlucky in the first half, when Willian hit the post twice in only seven minutes, at 34′ and 41’ with two shots from his from the box limit.

The Blaugrana, as usual, were dominant in the ball possession and in the game control, but they were barely dangerous, just a couple of headers by Paulinho and Pique that went wide.

Besides the posts, Chelsea were close to score also with Eden Hazard ( twice) whose shots went high on the crossbar and Antonio Rudiger, who was close to net the ball with a header.

Valverde’s side seemed more determined in the beginning of the second part, Suarez had his first attempt saved by Thibaut Courtois but it was Chelsea who took the lead when at minute 62′ Willian finally found the net with another shot from the limit after a short corner: it was the moment Stamford Bridge stands shook.

Barcelona, anyway, had a reaction after finding themselves one goal down and put all their effort to equalise: a draw that came at 75′ after a horrible defence from the Blues, with Marcos Alonso giving away a ball with a horizontal pass near the box while Barça were pressing close to it, Fabregas and Azpilcueta missed it, Iniesta got it and immediately assisted Messi who was able to score his first goal to Chelsea after eight attempts.

Chelsea also had the time to throw a couple of counter-attacks away, with Alvaro Morata that entered only at 82′ for Pedro, who had never been able to be dangerous against his former team.

Everything will be decided in three weeks at Camp Nou, where the game promises to be thrilling.

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Chelsea striker Pedro signed from Barcelona in summer 2015 and was part of the Blaugrana side that was beat by the Blues in the 2012 Champions League semifinal.

The Spanish striker recalls that tie, claiming it was one of the saddest moments of his career:

This memory stays with me even now, a very sad day for me and my team-mates,” said the Chelsea forward.

“I remember a lot of things: when you control the game and score the first goal, but then Leo [Messi] missed a penalty and then Fernando [Torres] scored with the game’s last touch to finish the tie… I remember it all because it was such a sad day for Barcelona and for all of us.”

“I remember these games so well. Chelsea were always horrible opponents, very difficult in these games: compact, strong in defence, pressed very well. For that reason, we always found it difficult against them.

Speaking ahead Chelsea’s last-16 tie against his former side, Pedro added:

“For the players of Barcelona, they’ll be thinking this tie is going to be very tough, this game for them, because Chelsea are strong. Chelsea are compact, and it’s never easy to play against us.”

“The reality is it’s not impossible for us [to advance to the quarter-finals],” he claimed

.”It’s possible for us to beat Barcelona and go through into the next round. It’s difficult because they’re a very great, big team, but it’s not impossible.”

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Chelsea's Frank Lampard, left , chases after Barcelona's Lionel Messi during their Champions League semifinal first leg soccer match at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium in London,Wednesday, April 18, 2012.

Frankie Lampard faced Leo Messi more than once during his career and the Argentine star has never succeeded in scoring to Chelsea in all the previous encounters, where Lampard was present as well.

The Blues legend knows how to stop him and, besides this, he  rates Messi, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, as the greatest player of all time, admitting his former club will need luck to stop him in his tracks.

However, Super Frank believes N’Golo Kante holds the key to try to stop him in this tie:

“Whoever is nearest to him has to take the responsibility to take that space because the minute you let him get his head up and run freely at you, you won’t get near him. I can say that from experience.

“There will be periods when you just have to back off. The problem is that being at home, there will be people wanting to see Chelsea have a bit of a go at them.

“But their players are that good, you have to back off to deny them the space where they can really hurt you.

“It is a fine line for Chelsea. They need to sit back but at the same time put pressure on him so he doesn’t become relaxed on the ball.

“This is where I think N’Golo Kante will be key. He is the one in Chelsea’s midfield with the abilities you need because he is so quick into the tackle.

“But it is important all 11 press their opponents, starting with those players at the top of the pitch.”

 

 

 

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Eden Hazard is convinced Chelsea can beat Barcelona in this tough Champions League tie:

“I think all of the games are difficult. When you play in the CL it is more than difficult. This season Barcelona are one of the best in the world. We will give everything in both games.

“We need to defend as a team, if we don’t then we are in trouble. It is right to play our football. We like the ball and when we have it we need to score goals. Tonight is key at Stamford Bridge.”

Asked if he feels he can be compared to Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi:

“First it is good to be compared with the greatest ever. But I am different. I try to do my job and reach my level to their level because they are the best in the world. If you want to be one of the best you have to play well in the big games.”

Chelsea will face Manchester United next weekend, an important weekend for them:

“For sure. Like I said we play football, we are Chelsea and the champions of England.”

Asked if we have to expect more coming from him:

“I think so. Every game I try to play my best football. This year we are back in the Champions League, you want to shine when you play the best team in the world. If I want to reach that level I have to play at the best.”

About his future:

“First I see the game tomorrow. I’ve been playing for Chelsea for six years and I am happy here, my family is happy here and focus about the end of the season. I don’t focus too much on the future.”

About Barcelona captain Andrés Iniesta:

“I think he is one of the best players with Messi in Barcelona history. He is still at the top and maybe played for ten years. I remember when he scored in the last minute, for Chelsea fans it is not a great memory. Now it is the past and we focus on the present and tomorrow is the future.”

About the tie:

“We know that it is tough to beat Chelsea. We are in a good position and will give everything. Barcelona is one of the best clubs in the world and they have had trouble against us and I hope tomorrow is the same.”

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte spoke ahead of the really important Champions League game against Barcelona:

“For sure we are talking about a massive game, a big challenge for us, against one of the best teams of the world, “ the Italian coach said while facing the international press in Stamford Bridge press room tonight.

“We must be excited to play this game against Barcelona.

“We must pay great attention but at the same time we must have ambition.

“We know their characteristics, they like ball possession and to dominate the game. We try to do what we like as well, what we try during the trainings.

“I think we start this game as underdogs, for sure, Barcelona are favourite to go through next round, but at the same time we’re excited to get this challenge. This game will let us understand what is our level in this competition. 

“Barcelona are having a fantastic season, they are top of the league, they are the Spanish cup final. This game will let us understand which is our level in the present.

Messi… we’re talking about the best player in the world, he’s got the capacity to solve situations, even with a chance. He’s a fantastic player, but we’ve to pay attention also to other players, like Suarez, Iniesta or others. 

“We have to work very hard, we have to know that during the game we must be prepared to suffer, but we also know that in every moment of the game we have to be ready to score.

“I think that after the game in FA Cup it was a bit difficult to sleep, because when you have to play these kind of games you have to prepare everything, you have to prepare the details because it’s what sometimes move the result. 

“I think that in this specific moments for us it’s very important to stay at a top level.

“As I said before, we’re talking about a tough game, for this reason we must pay great attention, we must have a plan, Barcelona have specific characteristics , we studied the opponent very well, we try to do what we know and what we prepared.

“I don’t know how many times I felt the pressure, but this is football, if you want to compete at the maximum level you have to cope with this pressure, the pressure must be your friend not your enemy.

“We have to play a perfect game if we want to win tomorrow, you start these two games with one favourite, and it’s Barcelona, because of what they have been doing for many years in football.

“At the end of the game if we are very good we will win the game.

“When you are top of the table and win a game you don’t feel the fatigue, in this case we’re speaking about a Champions League game and in Barcelona there are many players that are used to play these games.

“We have to play and to face a great team like Barcelona with our strength, tomorrow we must be excited and play with enthusiasm, passion. 

“We start the game 0-0, it doesn’t matter what the other side did in the past, now the most important thing is the present, and Barcelona is our level. It’s a great chance for us to prove what kind of team we’re and we will try to go through the next round.”

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