JUAN MATA SET FOR BARCA TUSSLE
Juan Mata was hoping Stamford Bridge would prove Barcelona's bogey ground once again as he prepared to face his fellow Spaniards in Chelsea's Champions League semi-final first leg.
Mata will take on Barca on Wednesday night for the first time since joining the Blues last summer, renewing a rivalry he enjoyed while at Valencia.
And his current team-mates have wasted little time schooling him in the previous instalments of the Chelsea-Barcelona saga, which have seen the European champions win just once in London.
Mata said: "My team-mates did mention that if there is one stadium where Barca does not feel comfortable and struggle, that is Stamford Bridge, especially in recent years.
"Chelsea's hope is to progress.
"Barca will try to hold possession and force us to defend but we have a lot of experienced players in these type of ties."
Barcelona did not need to win at Stamford Bridge to knock Chelsea out at the same stage three years ago, Andres Iniesta's stoppage-time strike seeing them win on away goals after Chelsea had been denied a clutch of penalties.
Mata added: "The previous meeting with them was a very exciting one until the end.
"Deep in stoppage-time, Andres scored a great goal but that is in the past. I hope the outcome of this semi-final will be a different story.
"As soon as we found out that we were playing against Barca, everybody knew it would be difficult but not impossible."
To succeed, Chelsea will surely have to limit the impact of Lionel Messi, who scored his 53rd goal of the season on Saturday.
Mata said: "To stop Messi is very difficult. He can appear at any time, as was the case this weekend in La Liga.
"But we cannot forget that Barca also have other dangerous players."
Chelsea will also need Mata to cause Barca problems at the other end and the winger allayed fears he was feeling the effects of the club's punishing run of games.
He said: "I am very happy with the way I'm playing. I'm satisfied to avoid injuries.
"I've played many games this season and I'm still holding on physically so I have to continue like this."
Mata delivered one of his best performances of the season in Sunday night's FA Cup semi-final thrashing of Tottenham, although his goal appeared not to have crossed the line.
He added: "We have reached the final of the FA Cup, which is a very important competition here.
"Of course, this gives us confidence for Wednesday's game."
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