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Chelsea board coach at Cobham as they head for Barcelona

by 13/03/2018 12:13:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • Chelsea face Barcelona in the Champions League last-16 on Wednesday night
  • The Blues began their journey from their Cobham training ground on Tuesday
  • Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas led the Blues as they boarded their coach
  • Antonio Conte's side head to the Nou Camp with the tie hanging in the balance

By Jaime Wright For Mailonline

Published: 10:51 EDT, 13 March 2018 | Updated: 12:13 EDT, 13 March 2018

The Chelsea squad set sail on their journey to Barcelona on Tuesday afternoon ahead of their Champions League last-16 tie at the Nou Camp.

Antonio Conte 's men began their trip from the club's Cobham training base as they were filmed by Chelsea's Twitter boarding the team coach before hopping on their flight to Spain ahead of Wednesday's game. 

Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas led the way as they were seen boarding the club coach, along with captain Gary Cahill and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. 

Tiemoue Bakayoko (left) and Thibaut Courtois prepare to jet off to Barcelona on Tuesday
Tiemoue Bakayoko (left) and Thibaut Courtois prepare to jet off to Barcelona on Tuesday

Tiemoue Bakayoko (left) and Thibaut Courtois prepare to jet off to Barcelona on Tuesday

Blues striker Olivier Giroud winks at the camera as he boards the coach in the Cobham car park
Blues striker Olivier Giroud winks at the camera as he boards the coach in the Cobham car park

Blues striker Olivier Giroud winks at the camera as he boards the coach in the Cobham car park

Willian poses with January arrival Emerson Palmieri as the pair share a selfie
Willian poses with January arrival Emerson Palmieri as the pair share a selfie

Willian poses with January arrival Emerson Palmieri as the pair share a selfie

After battling out an entertaining 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge at the end of February, the last-16 tie hangs in the balance with Chelsea looking to keep up their chase for a piece of silverware this season.

Chelsea are now four points adrift of the fourth and final Champions League spot, behind Liverpool, and are in danger of missing out on the competition for the second time in three seasons.

The Blues will not abandon all hope just yet though, having put on an admirable display in the reverse fixture, and will be clinging onto previous triumphs over Barca for encouragement.

In 2012, their only Champions League triumph, then-caretaker manager Roberto di Matteo led Chelsea to a historic victory against all the odds to knock Wednesday's opponents out in the semi-finals before beating Bayern Munich in the subsequent final.

Travelling Blues supporters will also hope Willian can reproduce the form he showed at the Bridge after his goal gave Conte's men a first-half lead - before Lionel Messi equalised for the visitors late on.

Willian, who could have easily had a hat-trick on the night after striking the post twice, travelled with the squad and is expected to start against Valverde's Barca side.

Ahead of the clash, Willian told Chelsea's official magazine that his love for football is still his motivation, which is fuelling his performances.

He said: 'I think you have to enjoy yourself on the pitch. To play football, you have to be happy. I have to enjoy this moment now. When you start to play more games, or when you play every match, you have confidence and things are good for you, then you can keep smiling.

Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas make for the team coach as they travel to Barcelona
Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas make for the team coach as they travel to Barcelona

Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas make for the team coach as they travel to Barcelona

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois makes his way to the Blues coach on Tuesday afternoon
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois makes his way to the Blues coach on Tuesday afternoon

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois makes his way to the Blues coach on Tuesday afternoon

Captain Gary Cahill boards the plane as he hopes to lead Chelsea to the quarter-finals
Captain Gary Cahill boards the plane as he hopes to lead Chelsea to the quarter-finals

Captain Gary Cahill boards the plane as he hopes to lead Chelsea to the quarter-finals

'I spent a long time practising tricks when I was young and my favourite was the elastico, which I try to do during games even now. I played like an attacker. I always wanted to attack, to have the ball, to dribble and score goals.'

Given his recent form, scoring two in his last three Premier League games and not to mention his performance in the first leg, selecting Willian should be a no-brainer for Conte. 

However, the Italian boss will have been tossing and turning in bed in the build up to this season-defining match over who will lead his attacking line.

Having trialled Hazard as a No 9, and discovering it's far from his most effective position, Conte has Giroud or out-of-favour and out-of-form Alvaro Morata to choose from. Both bring different benefits to Conte's side, with Giroud's direct approach, as opposed to the clinical finishing of Morata.

Chelsea legend and former Champions League winner Frank Lampard has claimed Morata should get the nod.

Blues defender Cesar Azpilicueta shakes hands with a member of the Chelsea staff
Blues defender Cesar Azpilicueta shakes hands with a member of the Chelsea staff

Blues defender Cesar Azpilicueta shakes hands with a member of the Chelsea staff

The Spaniard climbs aboard the coach as team-mate Giroud moves to greet the staff member
The Spaniard climbs aboard the coach as team-mate Giroud moves to greet the staff member

The Spaniard climbs aboard the coach as team-mate Giroud moves to greet the staff member

French striker Giroud follows Azpilicueta as he too acknowledges the Blues employee
French striker Giroud follows Azpilicueta as he too acknowledges the Blues employee

French striker Giroud follows Azpilicueta as he too acknowledges the Blues employee

Writing in his column for the Evening Standard on Tuesday, Lampard explained: 'I would certainly consider picking Morata to lead the line with Eden Hazard and Willian behind. Morata can provide a target for Chelsea players to aim at and someone who can run in behind.

'He can do that job more naturally than Hazard, who without the responsibility of playing up front can get more involved in the game himself.

'What Fernando Torres did in 2012 shows what a recognised striker can give you against Barcelona. There is that opportunity to play balls over the top to get out.' 

Aside from European competition, Conte's Blues are relying on the FA Cup with a quarter-final date with Leicester on Sunday still to come.

It will be their last resort for silverware should their Nou Camp date with Barca not go quite to plan.

Hazard appears to be in some discomfort as he stops next to Courtois to feel his left leg
Hazard appears to be in some discomfort as he stops next to Courtois to feel his left leg

Hazard appears to be in some discomfort as he stops next to Courtois to feel his left leg

The Belgian holds his upper-left thigh as he prepares to climb on to the club coach
The Belgian holds his upper-left thigh as he prepares to climb on to the club coach

The Belgian holds his upper-left thigh as he prepares to climb on to the club coach

Willian boards the plane as he looks to build on his goal against Barcelona in the first leg
Willian boards the plane as he looks to build on his goal against Barcelona in the first leg

Willian boards the plane as he looks to build on his goal against Barcelona in the first leg

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