Lionel Messi is still waiting to score his first goal against Chelsea after drawing a blank in eight previous UEFA Champions League matches.
The five-time World Player of the Year is likely to get another chance to break his duck this week and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes the past will count for little when Barcelona visit Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
“I hope we maintain this tradition but we are speaking about a fantastic player,” Conte said ahead of the last-16, first-leg game. “The most important thing is the present. “We must have great respect but at the same time we must be excited to play this type of game and take on this type of challenge. It won’t be easy because we know very well this player, we are talking about one of the best in the world.”
The teams have produced some epic games in the past, although they have not met in the Champions League since Chelsea pulled off a remarkable backs-to-the-wall semi-final victory over Barcelona on the way to winning the trophy in 2012.
Messi missed a penalty in the second leg at Camp Nou as the London club overcame the first-half dismissal of captain John Terry, and a 2-0 deficit, to draw the game 2-2 and secure an unforgettable 3-2 aggregate win.
Bayern Munich host Besiktas in Tuesday’s other game while the following day sees Manchester United traveling to Sevilla, and Shakhtar Donetsk playing host to Roma.