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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Chelsea - Barcelona Preview

Chelsea play host to defending champions Barcelona in what is another chapter in their recent but fierce rivalry.

While not exactly a must-win for both sides, one does sense the need to win tonight is more for bragging rights than survival in the competition as both sides are expected to progress from a group which contain minnows Levski and German outsiders Werder Bremen.

The pre-match build up has been dominated by the injuries suffered by both Cech and Cudicini with the former expected to face up to a year out to recover from his frightful injury last weekend thus the spotlight is firmly on Nene Hilario, a former player of Mourinho's at Porto, who has to deal with a similarly weakened Barcelona attack who are without the Cameroon livewire Eto'o who's out with a long term knee injury.

The reigning African Player of the year is central in the Catalans' much feared attack and his loss could prove significant for Barca not only in this match but also in the next couple of months. Ronaldinho is of course, the main attraction in the Barca frontline, but Eto'o's absence cannot be downplayed as he is such a vital player for his team.

His replacement is none other than Eidur Gudjohnsen, the former Chelsea frontman who joined Barcelona in the off season.

While Gudjohnsen is a skilful talent, one does doubt his ability to put one over his former captain John Terry who will know all about his former team mate's strengths.

The match itself should be very tight with both sides probably happy with a draw as a result but im tipping Chelsea to edge it 1-0.

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