Antonio Conte has a tough decision at hand on whether to start Alvaro Morata as Chelsea host Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.
Chelsea will be gunning for a repeat of their 2012 heroics as Barcelona pay Stamford Bridge a visit on Tuesday in the first leg of the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. And Antonio Conte has confirmed that Marcos Alonso is fit enough to return to the starting lineup, despite missing the last 3 ties.
Thibaut Courtois is set to return in goal for Chelsea. David Luiz is a major doubt for the game and is unlikely to feature, which means one of Gary Cahill and Antonio Rudiger will make his way onto the starting lineup. Conte is likely to select the former based on how he has selected his teams this season so far.
Marcos Alonso has trained with the team and should start on the left while Victor Moses returns to his role on the right side. Ross Barkley has also returned to training but is unlikely to feature ahead of Drinkwater or Fabregas. Given the need for creativity, Conte might go with the former Barcelona man in midfield as Kante’s partner.
Eden Hazard should be partnered with Willian, who is known for his work-rate and is likely to be preferred ahead of Pedro. The contentious decision will be as to who will start upfront in attack. Alvaro Morata looked out of pace when coming on for Olivier Giroud in the FA Cup win over Hull City and should ideally be on the bench, with the Frenchman leading the attack.
But, as has often been the case, Conte could spring up a surprise or two in his final team selection. Regardless, the manager highlighted the pressure that comes with a tie of such magnitude, stating that it is important to revel in the pressure rather than succumb to it in matches such as the visit of Barcelona.
“If you want to compete at the maximum level, you have to live with this pressure. A team like Chelsea must have the right pressure in every game. You must play with only one idea: to try to win. Sometimes you are able to, sometimes you are not, but your idea must be this. If you want to stay at this level, pressure must be your friend, not your enemy.”