Rivaldo Exclusive: Barça can take the lead at Stamford Bridge

Rivaldo expects Barcelona to claim a vital lead at Stamford Bridge
Rivaldo expects Barcelona to claim a vital lead at Stamford Bridge
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Betfair Ambassador Rivaldo knows all too well what it's like to play for Barcelona against Chelsea in the Champions League. He gives his verdict on Tuesday's clash at Stamford Bridge...

Early edge vital for Chelsea

It's obvious that the Blues will create difficulties for Los Blaugrana, but I believe the visitors have the ability to come away with the upper hand.

Despite knowing that a draw with goals would be acceptable for the Catalans, we all know that Barcelona always play for the win in any match - which might lead them to score at least one goal and perhaps win this first leg.

On the other hand, Chelsea enter this game trying to forge an early lead to reach Camp Nou in a comfortable situation. Going there desperate to score goals would be a nightmare for them.

For that reason, I don't expect it to be easy for Barcelona at Stamford Bridge, but I believe Ernesto Valverde's team has what it takes, and I would go with a 1-2 Barça win.

Conte's troops will be eager to follow suit

The English teams are shining in Europe this season, with Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham all well placed to reach the quarter-finals, however Chelsea might not have the same fortune as they face a strong side loaded with talent and experience.

Furthermore - and despite Chelsea being eager to match their Premier League compatriots success - Antonio Conte's team look under heavy pressure as they are almost out of contention for the League crown, and there isn't much left for them this season.

With that in mind, I expect Chelsea to give it their all but I don't doubt that they'll be nervous, something that won't happen with Barcelona as they come into this fixture in such a strong position - comfortably leading La Liga and already in the Copa del Rey final.

A powerful club such as Chelsea should be in contention for the English title and now they have another tough task in the Champions League, facing one of the main favourites to win the European title.

An early elimination in the Champions League last sixteen, adding to a failed Premier League campaign would mean a season lost for Chelsea, and that's why I'm mentioning that the pressure will really be on their side.

Valverde's staff up to the task

Philippe Coutinho is unavailable for this match - having already played for Liverpool in the competition this season - but many are pointing out his importance as he played for a while in England and has lined up against Chelsea on more than occasion.

But for all that the extra information is welcome, I'm convinced that Barcelona won't be surprised by Chelsea as Ernesto Valverde's coaching staff should have studied their opponents properly. The Premier League is seen all over the world and I'm sure Barcelona already know their main strengths and weaknesses ahead of this important match.

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