Hazard return to false nine as Conte looks for Barça plan
Antonio Conte has the option of repeating the 3-4-3 formation at the Camp Nou, using star player Eden Hazard as a false number nine, although has options with Giroud and Morata.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has practically all of his squad available for the Champions League last 16 second leg against Barcelona. One of his biggest decisions therefore will be how to get the best from the team's star player, Eden Hazard.
True or false: Conte Camp Nou choice
It's very possible that the Italian coach will repeat the starting XI from the first leg at Stamford Bridge, a game that left the tie delicately poised at 1-1. In that 3-4-3 formation, the Belgian was used as a false number nine with Willian and Pedro providing the other attacking threat. The alternative is to use a traditional striker with both Oliver Giroud and Álvaro Morata fit to play.
While the team without a pure nine did well against Barça - with the side unlucky not to head into the second leg with a lead - questions were raised about its effectiveness just days afterwards in their Premier League match against champions-elect Manchester City. In that encounter the Blues failed to create a shot on target, losing the game by a goal to nil.
The Giroud - Morata alternatives
In their last outing, Conte decided to go with Giroud instead of Pedro against Crystal Palace and the Frenchman linked well with Hazard and Willian, although the ex-Arsenal frontman does lack pace. Morata, on the other hand, could provide more running when Chelsea have the ball in the Barça half, and he also has some big Champions League experience behind his tender years, but with the Spaniard not having scored since December, Conte may be reluctant to throw him in if confidence is a doubt.
Another option for Conte is to flood the midfield by bringing in Bakayoko after the Frenchman missed the first leg through injury. Conte knows that his side must score at the home of LaLiga's current top dogs and it will be intriguing to see how he goes about it.