Lionel Messi, Barcelona
Photo by: EMPICS Sport/PA Photos
European powerhouses Barcelona renew acquaintances with Chelsea in the Champions League semifinal today at Camp Nou.
Say these names out loud and try to stop your mouth watering....Messi, Eto’o, Henry, Xavi, Iniesta. The list goes on.
All you need to know is that Barca are top of La Liga with 94 goals in just 33 games (Chelsea have scored just 56 in 34) and that the terrifying threesome of Messi, Eto’o and Henry have hit the net 90 times in all competitions.
Jose Bosingwa is the man charged with filling Ashley Cole’s void and, as such, shackling Messi – he’s only scored 34 times so far this season, including eight in the Champions League to make him the competition’s top scorer.
While all the attention might be on the task Bosingwa is facing, do not discount a one-man Michael Essien destruction job akin to that which he performed on Steven Gerrard in the quarter final, first leg against Liverpool.
A rejuvenated Eto’o is not far behind Messi with 32 across the board so far, but Hiddink will at least hope that his brief time in charge of the then-teenage Cameroon striker at Real Madrid will help his attempts to keep him under wraps.
Never keen to miss out on a chance for one-upmanship against Real, the anorak-wearers at Camp Nou will no doubt know that Barca sit just two goals adrift of passing their great rivals’ record total of 850 goals in European competition.
If The Blues stop Messi and co. from at least equalling that tally on Tuesday they should consider it a good night’s work.
That is not to say that away goals are off the agenda. It would be folly not to believe Hiddink’s intimation that his team shall attack (see their most recent trip to Anfield for confirmation).
With a Frank Lampard looking to prove just why Barca previously took a fancy to him and a Didier Drogba in the midst of a run of nine goals in twelve games in his side, the 5,000 away fans will no doubt have travelled optimistic of seeing Hiddink’s Midas touch go on.
Dutchman do, after all, have an illustrious history of making names for themselves at Camp Nou.