Five Reasons Why Barcelona Are Favourites In Their Champions League Clash With Chelsea

Messi: I have no problem rotating

Less arrogance and better values

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player, with the Catalans genuinely optimistic that a third treble is possible.

Running away with LaLiga, in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey and unbeaten in the Champions League, their positive mood is understandable.

The Blaugrana have managed it twice already and there are several reasons why they can do it again.

LaLiga in their pocket

Right now, LaLiga looks like a competition that Barcelona have already won, because the statistics indicate that Lionel Messi and Co. are well on their way to becoming champions.

Never in the history of the league has a team come back from 11 points behind to claim the crown.

There are, nevertheless, examples of teams that managed four victories to take the title, but this was in the days of two points for a win.

Atletico Madrid achieved it in the 1949/1950 season and Johan Cruyff's Barcelona did the same in the 1991/92 campaign.

In both cases, the team they beat to win the title was Real Madrid.

Strong in the Champions League

The Catalans have done their homework for the Champions League and guaranteed their passage to the knockout stages as unbeaten group winners.

Nine goals scored and only one conceded is an incredible return in the European competition.

Undoubtedly, the Champions League is the most difficult of the three titles to win, and Antonio Conte's Chelsea will be a tough nut to crack.

However, if Barcelona can overcome that hurdle, they'll be well positioned to do win the treble again.

Favourites in the Copa del Rey

Of the four teams that are still alive in the competition, Barcelona are the favourite to take the title.

Not only for being the champions of this competition in recent years - having played six of the last seven finals - but also for the difference in quality of players between the Catalans and their rivals.

Marcelino's Valencia stand between them and yet another final.

Defensive improvement

It is one of the hallmarks of Ernesto Valverde's Barcelona, and something which the coach has insisted on since he arrived at the Camp Nou.

It has become very difficult to score a goal against this side and the numbers prove it.

They have only conceded one in the Champions League, nine in 20 LaLiga games and only two in the Copa del Rey.

Messi, unleashed

Lionel Messi is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career.

"The favourite to win is always the team that Messi plays for," Pep Guardiola said in December and he was right.

With the Argentinian at this level, Barcelona can dream of anything.

He already has 26 goals and is also having a prominent role in terms of goal assists.

If he reaches the same heights in Europe, it will be difficult to stop the Catalans.

The Coutinho factor

Philippe Coutinho can't play in the Champions League, but the Brazilian can contribute a lot in the other competitions.

His participation will give Andres Iniesta, a man who will is also key to Barcelona's aspirations, some rest.

The Brazilian debuted on Thursday against Espanyol and with only 22 minutes on the pitch, the player showed he was well worth his expensive transfer, adapting perfectly to the team's style of play.

An elite squad

The Catalans have made two of the most expensive signings in the club's history and any team that aspires to win everything, needs to have a top-notch team with very strong substitutes.

Take the example of Barcelona's bench during Thursday's match against Espanyol.

Valverde had Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina, Andre Gomes, Coutinho, Paulinho and Paco Alcacer by his side.

That's without Ousmane Dembele and Thomas Vermaelen, who are both injured.

They know how it is done

Barcelona currently have a number of footballers who have won the treble before.

Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Iniesta, Ter Stegen and Sergi Roberto have all witnessed what it feels like to win the three titles in one season.

There are still four players who also won it when Guardiola was in charge; Pique, Iniesta, Messi and Busquets.

Players in form

For a team to end up taking the three titles home, it is essential that Barcelona have their players in their best form.

That's the case at the moment with many at their peak.

Valverde's touch

One can't understand Barcelona's success so far without referencing Ernesto Valverde.

The former Athletic Club coach has managed to drastically turn this team around, producing an effective and lethal side.

He's been able to put an end to some of Barcelona's dogmas of recent years.

For example, he has gone from a 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 formation and nobody has blinked twice about it.

He's also shown that you can rotate Messi and Suarez and not cause tension in the dressingroom.

Apart from that, it's necessary to recognise his tactical nous in the most crucial moments.

Source : http://www.marca.com/en/football/barcelona/2018/01/27/5a6b8069e2704ef85f8b4589.html

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