Cahill wary of ‘phenomenal’ Barca

Chelsea defender Gary Cahill has described the Blues’ Champions League semi-final opponents Barcelona as ‘phenomenal’, but says they can be beaten (Chelsea 4/1, draw 14/5, Barcelona 7/10 with bet365).

The two sides meet in the first leg of the their semi-final tie at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, with Roberto Di Matteo‘s men being viewed as major underdogs.

After a slow start to the year, European champions Barca have won their last 13 games in the league, as well as dominating AC Milan in the last round of the Champions League.

Despite the Blaugrana (5/6 Champions League outright with bet365) facing Real Madrid next weekend, coach Pep Guardiola has insisted that his players will be fully focused on the Stamford Bridge clash and says they will be looking to take a lead back to the Camp Nou.

Cahill accepts that Barcelona are a ‘phenomenal’ team, but says he and his team-mates will not be scared of their opponents.

“They’re beatable, for sure, every team is beatable. But the way they play football is phenomenal,” Cahill said. “I saw them against AC Milan, they scored three but could have probably had six against a fantastic team in their own right.

“We’re under no illusions and everyone knows it will be one of the toughest games of the season,” he added.

Guardiola switches focus

Bet on the Champions LeagueBarcelona coach Pep Guardiola says although he will not give up on winning La Liga, he is now more concerned with retaining the Champions League (Barca 6/5 – Champions League outright with bet365).

Following Saturday’s 2-0 win away to Sevilla, the Catalans currently sit seven points behind their great rivals Real Madrid, but Jose Mourinho’s men have the perfect opportunity to extend their lead when they face Malaga at the Bernabeu on Sunday night.

Despite beating Real before the Christmas break, Guardiola’s side have fallen behind Los Blancos due to a number of sloppy performances, most notably the away defeats to Getafe and more recently Osasuna.

However, Barca have continued to impress in the cup competitions, qualifying for both the quarter-finals of the Champions League and the final of the Copa del Rey in May, where they willll face the ever improving Athletic Bilbao (Barca – 1/6 Copa del Rey outright).

The Blaugrana boss says he’s more worried about winning these two competitions as he cannot see his side’s deadly rivals Real slipping up.

“We’re just here to do our job and win what we can” he said. “You already know my opinion on the league – we’d love to compete for the league right until the end, but I don’t think that’s going to be possible.”

Hiddink would consider Chelsea return

Bet on the Premier LeagueGuus Hiddink has dropped a big hint he would be keen on returning to Chelsea as manager but insists he has yet to be officially approached about the job (Chelsea 5/2 to win Premier League next season with bet365).

The Turkey boss is the frontrunner to succeed Carlo Ancelotti at Stamford Bridge (2/1f to be next permanent manager) and is thought to be owner Roman Abramovich’s first-choice as he looks for a coach to guide Chelsea to Champions League glory.

Hiddink was a hit in west London when he was in charge on a temporary basis in 2009 and won the FA Cup that season before taking up the role as Turkey boss.

The Dutchman says he would consider a return to the club should they approach him but insists there is no offer on the table as yet.

“If there was a concrete offer, then I would think about it,” he said.

“But there’s nothing concrete. You cannot go into all kind of speculation or rumours because there’s nothing concrete. The moment things are concrete, I’ll go to where I have to be, direct.”

Hiddink remains focused on guiding Turkey to next summer’s European Championships and says he will concentrate on Friday’s qualifier against Belgium before assessing his options.

“First, get this game done next Friday, a difficult game, you know. Then we’ll see,” he added.

Other managers in the frame to take over are Spurs boss Harry Redknapp (3/1), Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola (7/2) and former Dutch coach Marco van Basten (9/2).

Guardiola braced for Espanyol threat

Football bettingPep Guardiola has warned his Barcelona players they must match the intensity of Espanyol when the Catalan rivals compete for bragging rights in La Liga on Saturday (14/1 Espanyol – Stan James Outright Prices Without Barcelona & Real Madrid).

The Cornella-El Prat outfit have not lost at home this season and Guardiola knows Barca will have to be at their best to extend their unbeaten away record in La Liga to eight consecutive games (10/1 Espanyol 5/1 draw 1/4 Barcelona – Stan James match betting).

The champions have scored 26 goals in their last six matches in all competitions – without conceding – but the Camp Nou boss knows form counts for little in derby games.

“It will be a great game,” he said. “Espanyol are going well and are playing good football.”

He added: “They do not only apply pressure, but they also can play the ball out from the back and have creative midfielders like Verdú and Callejón. They play with great intensity and they know how to play well.”

Espanyol and Barcelona drew 0-0 in last season’s meeting at Cornella – the first between the two sides at the former’s new stadium.