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Does Coutinho provide the key to defeating Chelsea?

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Despite being cup-tied in the Champions League, the Brazilian’s experience may be crucial.

Liverpool v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In the last decade, Chelsea have become an increasing thorn in the side of Barcelona. You have to go back to 2006 to find the last time the Blaugrana triumphed over the London club and barring a late Andrés Iniesta goal, Chelsea would have knocked Barça out of the Champions League in their last three meetings.

Barcelona are strong favourites for the 2018 edition of this fixture but when the players take to the field next week, it may be the experience of one of those in the stands that provides the pathway to victory.

Of all the teams Philippe Coutinho has played in his career, he has faced Chelsea the most. Featuring against them in 12 matches, the Brazilian has scored two goals and provided an assist. Interestingly though, Coutinho has rarely been on the winning side. He has drawn six of those encounters, won two and lost the rest so while he does not have an outstanding record against them, he knows what it takes to win and how easy it can be to lose to Chelsea.

Due to his performances with Liverpool earlier this season, Coutinho himself is cup tied for this game but he has more experience of the London club then any other player in the Barcelona squad. It is also worth nothing that in his past six meetings with Chelsea, Coutinho has not been on the losing side.

The last time Coutinho visited Stamford Bridge, he scored one of the goals in Liverpool’s 2-1 win so clearly knows what tactics work well against Chelsea. Ernesto Valverde will no doubt have his own ideas and plans for next week’s tie but a few questions may be heading Coutinho’s way given he has first hand experience.