Barcelona enter Tuesday's match with an unusual two-game losing streak, but the bookies are backing the La Liga giants to overcome Chelsea
Surely, surely Barcelona will not slip up again.
At least that is what the bookies are thinking ahead of the Catalan giants' intriguing home second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Chelsea, which kicks off at the Nou Camp on Tuesday [Wednesday morning Australian time].
Barcelona are seeking to overturn their shock 1-0 loss to the Londoners in the first leg at Stamford Bridge last Thursday and since then have seen their hopes of a fourth-successive La Liga crown in Spain all but disappear, following Saturday's 2-1 home loss to great rivals Real Madrid.
But Barca could yet gain revenge on Real Madrid and win their fourth Champions' League title in seven seasons if they can beat Chelsea, and Real Madrid overcome a 2-1 first leg deficit against German giants Bayern Munich in the other semi-final on Wednesday.
Barcelona, despite their recent slip-ups, have been installed as red-hot $1.25 favourites by bookmaker Luxbet to win the second leg against Chelsea, with the draw at $6 and the Blues rank outsiders at $9.75.
However, with their hopes of qualifying for the Champions' League by finishing in the top four in the English Premier League slipping away - they trail fourth-placed Newcastle by four points with just four matches remaining - Chelsea know that winning this season's continental title could be their only way back into the competition next year.
But while caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo has performed miracles since taking over in March from the axed Andre Villas-Boas ‑ leading the Blues to the FA Cup final as well as the last four of the Champions' League - it is going to take a defensive performance of the highest magnitude to keep out Barcelona in the second leg on Tuesday.
The Blues chances have not been helped by the likely absence of defender David Luiz due to a hamstring injury. But star striker Didier Drogba, who scored the winning goal in the first leg in what was Chelsea's only shot on target that match, is expected to play after missing Saturday's 0-0 draw with Arsenal due to a knee injury.
However, Luxbet's Andy Scott said the punters are giving Chelsea virtually no chance, with all of the money coming for Barcelona.
"We are also holding a decent amount on Barcelona to beat the handicap of minus 1.5 goals," he said.
|Barcelona to beat Chelsea with a minus 1.5 goal handicap at $1.72 at Luxbet
||Lionel Messi to be the last goalscorer in Barcelona v Chelsea at $3.10 at Luxbet
You can get a $1.72 at Luxbet on Barcelona to win giving Chelsea a 1.5 goal start, and we think that is the way to go in this game given Chelsea's defence is likely to cave in at some stage against a Barcelona side desperate to find the net after their recent slip-ups.
And you can bet that their superstar Argentine Lionel Messi will be in the thick of the action.
Incredibly, the man who this season has become the first player since Gerd Muller in 1972-73 to score 60 goals in a single European season and who has scored a record-equalling 14 goals in this season's Champions' League has never scored against Chelsea in seven previous matches.
Messi, however, so often saves his best for the big occasions and, when he does break his drought against Chelsea, is likely to do it in style.