Lionel Messi urging Barcelona to snub certain stars for Chelsea clash

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Lionel Messi knows as well as anyone that Barcelona face a crucial encounter on Tuesday night as they take on Chelsea in the Champions League.

The two sides have shared some memorable battles over the years, with the Catalan giants likely to look back on their visit in 2009 fondly after Andres Iniesta’s dramatic late goal.

Having always been thoroughly tested by the Blues though, this time promises to be no different and according to Don Balon, as re-reported by The Express, Messi is eager to see Ernesto Valverde make key decisions with regards to his starting line-up at Stamford Bridge.

That involves Andre Gomes, Paco Alcacer and Ousmane Dembele being left on the bench, with the trio struggling to establish themselves in the side through competition for places, lack of form or injuries.

Dembele has been restricted to just nine outings since his summer move, while Gomes and Alcacer have played bit-part roles having mostly been used off the bench.

In turn, it remains to be seen whether or not Messi’s reported encouragement does prove decisive, as the visitors will be desperate to return to the Nou Camp next month with a positive result to defend.

Nevertheless, it remains to be seen who gets the nod from Valverde, with Aleix Vidal tipped to battle Paulinho for a spot in the team, as per Don Balon, but Barca will undoubtedly go with the strongest XI that they can put together.

Having gone 24 games unbeaten in La Liga to start the campaign, sitting seven points above Atletico Madrid, coupled with a date to face Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final, Valverde is on course for a successful first season in charge at the club.

However, this is a genuine test of both his quality as a coach and that of his players, and so they have to get it spot on with their line-up in order to nullify Chelsea’s threat, and perhaps even take a lead back with them for the second leg.

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