For Chelsea FC, getting to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals is not a new experience. This is their sixth appearance at this stage in the last nine editions of Europe's premier club competition. While they may have been heavily fancied in the past, though, this season's run to the last four has probably gone against the form book. Having flirted with glory in the recent past, they are yet again three matches away from lifting the famous trophy for the first time. First up, though, they will have to tackle an old adversary.
Story of the season
It has been a tough season at Stamford Bridge. Long out of the Premier League title race, the Blues parted company with manager André Villas-Boas after the round of 16 first-leg loss to SSC Napoli. Results have picked up since under interim boss Roberto Di Matteo and, from a gloomy outlook at the beginning of 2012, Chelsea are in the last four of the UEFA Champions League and in the FA Cup final with every chance of finishing what has been a difficult campaign in glorious fashion.
P5 W1 L4
Last: 2008/09 v FC Barcelona (0-0 away, 1-1 home)
Record against semi-final opponent
Chelsea v Barcelona has been one of the most keenly contested fixtures in recent UEFA Champions League history. The encounters between the teams of José Mourinho and Frank Rijkaard set the tone, and their last meeting was also in a semi-final, when Andrés Iniesta's added-time effort sent the Catalan side through in dramatic fashion.
2008/09 UEFA Champions League semi-final
FC Barcelona 0-0 Chelsea FC
Chelsea FC 1-1 FC Barcelona (agg 1-1, Barcelona win on away goals)
2006/07 UEFA Champions League group stage
Chelsea FC 1-0 FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea FC
2005/06 UEFA Champions League round of 16
Chelsea FC 1-2 FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona 1-1 Chelsea FC (agg 3-2)
2004/05 UEFA Champions League round of 16
FC Barcelona 2-1 Chelsea FC
Chelsea FC 4-2 FC Barcelona (agg 5-4)
1999/2000 UEFA Champions League quarter-final
Chelsea FC 3-1 FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea FC (aet, agg 6-4)
Key moment of the season
Chelsea have had to dig deep more than once this season. They required a matchday six result against Valencia CF to make the knockout stages, and had to survive a nervy few minutes late on in their quarter-final defeat of ten-man SL Benfica. However, the round of 16 second-leg performance against Napoli marked a return to Chelsea's belligerent best, as they overturned a 3-1 deficit at Stamford Bridge. After the tie was taken to extra time, Branislav Ivanović struck a 105th-minute winner to send the home supporters into raptures.
Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea interim manager
"Barcelona are probably one of the best teams in the world, if not the best. They are going to be favourites but we have a lot of belief in ourselves. We have to perform at our best to beat them and we believe we can do that."
Didier Drogba's total of four European goals may seem modest, but the fact they have come in only four starts outlines the impact the experienced Ivory Coast striker can still make. Furthermore, Drogba has tended to score at key times: striking twice in the 3-0 win against Valencia and igniting the Napoli comeback with the opener in the second leg.
Much has been said about the Chelsea old guard – the likes of Frank Lampard, John Terry, Drogba – and their contribution to the Blues' resurgence. Yet some of the younger members have played a big part, too – including David Luiz. With Terry sometimes absent through injury, Luiz has stepped up impressively at centre-back and is the only Chelsea outfield player to have appeared in every European game this season. He was rock solid in the 1-0 win in Lisbon against his old side Benfica, and even popped up with a goal against Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
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