Chelsea star Meireles wary of Barcelona backlash after Clasico defeat

The Catalans trail by one goal ahead of the Champions League semi-final second leg and the Portuguese midfielder insists his side must 'play even more perfectly' at Camp Nou
By Francisco Delgado

Chelsea midfielder Raul Meireles is wary of a Barcelona backlash ahead of Tuesday evening's Champions League semi-final second-leg clash at Camp Nou.

Roberto Di Matteo's side hold a one-goal advantage in the tie thanks to Didier Drogba's first-half strike in the sides' meeting at Stamford Bridge nearly a week previously.

The Catalan giants failed to provide a positive response to that defeat as they were beaten 2-1 by Real Madrid in Saturday's Clasico showdown - a result which saw Jose Mourinho's men move seven points clear at the top of La Liga with just four games remaining.
Roberto Di Matteo happy with defence

Meireles believes that, while consecutive defeats for Barca could work in Chelsea's favour at Camp Nou, the Champions League holders will now be desperate to rekindle their European hopes after "practically losing the league" last weekend.

"Barcelona's defeat against Real Madrid could have some effect on the game on Tuesday, but it's a double-edged sword because after practically losing the league, their challenge is Europe and they will come out with even more motivation," the Portugal international told

"The game at Camp Nou is a final for us. It's not easy to knock out Barcelona but first blood went to us and now we will have to play even more perfectly on Tuesday."

The Blues have been criticised for their alleged use of negative tactics in the first leg of the semi-final and, although Meireles refused to deny that his side will "park the bus" at Camp Nou, he is adamant that pressing in defence will be key to his side's chances.

"I am not the coach and I don't know what system we will use in the return match, but pressing in defence will be key and we can't let dangerous balls into our area," he added.

"Few people believed before the game at Stamford Bridge that we would have an advantage going into the second leg, but our strategy worked out well.

"We have been heavily criticised for the playing system we adopted, but it's not easy at all to stop a team like Barca from scoring. And anyway, what really matters to us at this stage of the Champions League is getting to the final.

"Park the bus? I smile when I hear such comments because Barca are always a difficult team to play against - home and away. The important thing is to get to the final and we go to Camp Nou with that objective."

Lionel Messi extended his barren run against Chelsea to seven games following last week's failure to score at Stamford Bridge, but Meireles insists that the Argentine is "number one" and that the Blues will have to do all they can to make things uncomfortable for him on the night.

"Messi is the number one and there is no doubt," the midfielder continued. "Now we will have to make things uncomfortable for him on the pitch and not allow him time to think about his moves. It's not easy, but that's one of our missions for Tuesday."
11/2 Barcelona are 11/2 with Bet365 to beat Chelsea 2-0 on Tuesday night

Meireles went on to observe that an away goal against the Catalans could make the difference and also declared that Di Matteo's charges will not be intimidated by the atmosphere at Camp Nou.

"It will be a game of much sacrifice and concentration," he said. "We will have to try and make Barca desperate and take advantage of any mistake to score a goal. That way, everything will be different for us.

"The atmosphere in the stands doesn't worry us. It will be against us and that's normal, but we have played in similar situations and nobody will shrink on the pitch."

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