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20th Feb 2018

“He needs to start more games” – Willian praised for showing against Barcelona

He was a constant threat for Chelsea against Barça

Reuben Pinder

Third time’s a charm

It seemed like it just wasn’t his day. Despite being a constant threat, Willian struck the post twice in the first half of tonight’s Champions League round of 16 tie against Barcelona. The first shot crashed against the post to Marc-André Ter Stegen’s left, the second shot, almost identical to the first, smacked the other post. With a smidgeon more luck, Chelsea could have been 2-0 up at half-time. Instead, the teams went into the break with the game goalless and all still to play for.

But Willian finally found the net with his trademark stop-shimmy-set-and-strike finish that he uses to such good effect. This time, he kept his shot low and it curled inwards through a crowded box and passed Ter Stegen before he could react. Advantage Chelsea. And it was no less than he deserved.

Willian’s goal gave Chelsea a one goal lead, although it was short lived as Lionel Messi finally broke his Chelsea duck, having never previously scored against them.

Both teams will consider 1-1 a satisfactory result, with the tie still all to play for and crucially for Barcelona, they got that vital away goal.

Man of the match, though, has to be Willian. Playing as one third of of Chelsea’s fluid front line comprising him, Pedro and Eden Hazard nominally up front, he was a constant source of danger and an outlet for Chelsea to counter attack.

Messi may have scored, but he was kept relatively quiet by Chelsea who crowded him out well.

Willian’s superb performance has got a lot of fans talking. Despite his evident quality, he is not a regular starter for Chelsea; Pedro and Hazard are both ahead of him in the pecking order. Lots of people, both Chelsea fans and neutrals, are questioning why that is.

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