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Chelsea-Barcelona Preview and Pick

Chelsea-Barcelona Preview and Pick

Chelsea-Barcelona Preview and Pick
By Shawn Young

CHELSEA vs. FC BARCELONA (-0.5, -150 or -0.75 -115 or -1 +125; 2.5 goals over -120)

A phantom second goal helped Chelsea crush Spurs 5-1 at Wembley in Sunday's FA Cup semi. Barcelona beat “poor, ugly, and bad at [soccer]” Levante 2-1 away on Saturday.

The bet is Chelsea, but take them Asian-style +0.75 around even or +1 at about -140. I'm on at +1 and I think it's a bet I'm unlikely to lose. Chelsea might get something from this home game. If not, I don't think it's any worse than 0-1 or 1-2.

Sure, Barcelona is the better team. Chelsea, however, has been improving lately under new boss Roberto Di Matteo. The market rightly favored Chelsea against Spurs on neutral ground Sunday, despite Spurs being slightly in front in the standings.

That game with Spurs did something else for Di Matteo and Chelsea: it gave them a dress rehearsal for this match. Gareth Bale is not quite Lionel Messi because nobody is. Spurs are most certainly not Barcelona. But this is Chelsea's second shot in four days at facing the same type of team—opposition that likes the ball, has multiple threats, and boasts a playmaker who glues the ball to his foot whenever he likes. Chelsea's emphatic win over Spurs is better than losing, but the practice is what counts.

Chelsea might get beaten down in the second leg in Barcelona, but that's next week's problem.

These teams know each other well. Since Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea, these teams have played eight times in the Champions League. In four home games, Chelsea has two wins, a draw, and lost a game 1-2.

Barcelona wingback Dani Alves has stirred the pot by stating in an interview that Chelsea play with fear and lack courage. I guess we'll see.

Chelsea have issues in central defense but I firmly believe that if David Luiz can't play, it's addition by subtraction. John Terry has broken ribs, but played Sunday. Gary Cahill starts beside him. Branislav Ivanovic is eligible at the back despite a domestic suspension.

No preference on the total. Just the live home dog.

Chelsea 4-5-1: Cech; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Cole; Mata, Essien, Ramires, Lampard Kalou; Drogba.

Barcelona 4-2-1-3: Valdes; Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Puyol; Keita, Busquets; Xavi; Alexis Sanchez, Messi, Iniesta.

Pick: Chelsea 1, Barcelona 1.

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