By Guest Writer Thomas Rooney
Over the next couple of weeks, the build up to the Champions League semi-finals is likely to be immense. It has been one of the most exciting competitions of the last few years and the final four teams are likely to entertain us some more.
As the only non-English team left in the competition, there is likely to be a lot of focus on whether Barcelona can go all the way and win the tournament. To do so, they need to make their way past Chelsea in their semi-final tie at the end of this month.
Many expect both of these legs to be very tight, but former Barcelona midfielder Deco – who now plays for Chelsea – believes that his former club are favourites to progress. This is down to one man – Lionel Messi.
The Portugal international says that Barcelona have ‘an advantage’ because they have Messi on their side. Deco says that the youngster is someone who can ‘make the difference more than all others’.
These types of quotes are likely to upset some Chelsea fans, but Deco had four successful years at Barcelona and he still holds the club in high regard. Speaking about his return to the club, he says that it will be a ‘special’ occasion because Barcelona were always the team he ‘dreamed of playing with.’
This affection for Barca will go out of the window when the two teams meet at the Camp Nou at the end of this month though. It is likely to be a tense affair and there is no doubt that Chelsea will have to work out how best to deal with the threat of Messi.
The Argentinean’s team mate Daniel Alves has also come out and said that Messi could make the difference against Chelsea. The defender says that he is ‘spectacular to play with’ and that the team as a whole has a positive ‘mentality’ going into the semi-final simply because they have Messi.
Overall, it is fair to say that Chelsea wouldn’t mind if Messi picked up a knock and missed the first leg. They will know how big a player he is for Barcelona.
However, everyone wants to see the best players on show and Chelsea have their own stars. Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack, Deco and Michael Essien can all create something special. All in all, it's my Champions League prediction that we're in for a fantastic couple of games and many of us cannot wait.
By Thomas Rooney