Chelsea continue their NextGen Campaign against Barcelona tonight and will hope to emulate their senior players performance in Catalonia in the Champions League last season in order to advance to the latter stages.
Chelsea advanced from their Group as one of the best-placed third teams behind CSKA Moscow and Ajax so go into the game as the underdog against Barcelona; who finished top of Group One.
Barca however have had a mixed campaign; losing to Spurs 4-1 at the Nou Camp being the low point along with two unfashionable draws with Belgian outfit Anderlecht home and away.
Despite that somewhat sketchy form in the NextGen Series the main bilk of this squad is still performing exceptionally well on a domestic front; unbeaten in their league campaign with 20 wins and three draws from 23 games.
Chelsea arrived in Barcelona yesterday and have trained at the famed La Masia academy; a fact that has excited the players given the opportunity to train where the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi earned their spurs. They also embarked on a tour of the legendary Nou Camp stadium to motivate themselves ahead of the tie.
Chelsea boss Dermot Drummey is in no doubt about the task at hand but is still sure his Young Blues can pull off an upset at the Mini Estadi; just a stone’s throw away from the Nou Camp itself:
'’We have watched DVDs of their games and the bottom line is they are a Barcelona side and they will have a way of playing. They had 82 per cent possession in one NextGen game but we believe in the way we play and we will react as the game goes on. We will try to play our game but if at times we are under pressure we will lock up. We learn, we plan and we prepare, and we loved going to Ajax in our last group match. We liked for a team to have the ball more than us at times because that is the reality of the modern game. [But] we will play our game because we believe in our players.’’
Chelsea should be at a relatively full complement with the exception of Jordan Houghton who has a knee injury so the likes of Islam Feruz, Lewis Baker and Alex Davey must be on top form if the club are to emulate Tottenham Hotspur’s performance in Barcelona earlier in the competition.
Here are some Tweets from excited Chelsea youngsters…
Landed in Barcelona! Getting ready for training at barca's training ground soon! Weather is deeecent! #cfc #chelsea #barca #nextgenseries
— Dion Conroy (@dionjc95) February 19, 2013
Chilling in barcelona ahead of the game tomorrow #bangbang
— lewis baker (@lew_baker) February 19, 2013
Just visited the Nou Camp! Omg, amazing experience. #inspiration #dream #love #football #cfc #chelsea #barcelona
— Dion Conroy (@dionjc95) February 20, 2013
Getting ready for training at barca's training ground! Weather is decent
— Adam Nditi (@Adam_Nditi) February 19, 2013
If Chelsea win they will play either Inter Milan or Arsenal in the Quarter-finals and if you want to watch the game it is being streamed live on both the Chelsea and Barcelona official websites.
The other team to qualify from Chelsea's Group, CSKA Moscow are also in action today; taking on PSV Eindhoven. The game will be played at the Akdeniz Stadium in Turkey rather than the October Stadium in Moscow.
image: © castroquini-fcb