Chelsea kick off the most important four days within their season by taking on Paris Saint Germain in the second leg of the last 16 of the Champions League. With the score standing at 2-1 to the French club after the first leg three weeks ago, Chelsea know only a victory will do to help them progress to the Quarter Finals, and with the away goals rule coming into play, even this all important win may not be enough to see the Blues through.
The Boys in Blue
When Edinson Cavani smashed a low drive under Thibaut Courtois in the Parc des Princes three weeks ago, the relief could be felt amongst all PSG fans. We are yet to see how significant this second goal may be. What it does do is that it provides Chelsea with a target to chase.
They must score and they must win on the night. Since Guus Hiddink took over only Scunthorpe have came to Stamford Bridge and failed to score. This trend was continued on Saturday when Mame Biram Diouf was the latest opposition player to silence the Stamford Bridge crowd. With Chelsea having to chase the game, Hiddink must be cautious about the tactics he adopts on Wednesday night.
There are several questions that can be posed ahead of the team lineups being announced. Will he go slightly more cautious with the duo of Matic and Mikel, allowing Fabregas to push on as Chelsea know they only need a 1-0 win on the night and there are 90 minutes to score this goal in? Or will Hiddink look to sacrifice one of the two more defensive players as he was forced to do so in Paris and bring Oscar in with a view to fighting fire with fire? I think it is obvious as to which one of these two options he decides to go with, as PSG’s attacking threat, coupled with the fact Captain John Terry misses out and a makeshift back four may need protection, make it far too much to risk utilising an all out attack mindset.
Chelsea have been in this position before however. In the last two seasons the second leg between the two teams has both times been at the Bridge. Chelsea had to go a step further in the 13/14 season, after losing the first leg 3-1, but had less to do last year after drawing 1-1 in Paris. The leading players like Cahill, Ivanovic, Azpilicueta, Mikel and Willian, who have been in these situations over the last two years, will look to guide the rest with their expertise and know how.
Although they had went 35 games unbeaten earlier this season, the last two games have been less than impressive for the French club. In the league, a 2-1 defeat to Lyon, their first this season, was followed up by a 0-0 draw with Montpellier. However, PSG and their owner, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, know that if they are to be held amongst Europe’s elite it is not the French League that matters, but progression to the latter stages of this competition that will truly make the rest stand up and take notice.
With PSG having being knocked out in the Quarter Finals in the last two seasons to their opponents tomorrow Chelsea, and Barcelona respectively, they will be hoping that this year they may be able to go that step further. PSG will not look to sit on their lead, and they have several players they will look to help send them into the draw for the next round. The attacking delights of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria and Lucas Moura on paper is enough to make the Chelsea defence shudder.
It will be intriguing to see which one of these 4 will miss out at the Bridge, with Laurent Blanc preferring to adopt a 4-3-3 formation. It was Cavani who pulled the short straw in the first leg, but even with his goal after coming on, if he was to play he would surely be moved into a wide position to accommodate the Swede Ibrahimovic up front. Although tough, these are the sorts of dilemma’s managers crave and we are eagerly awaiting who will line up and try to test the back four Chelsea put out on Wednesday.
Chelsea were dealt a major blow with the news that John Terry had lost his race to be fit in time for the second leg of this tie after failing to recover from his injury that has kept him out these past few weeks. Pedro trained but is unlikely to play after a hamstring injury, Zouma remains out long term and Falcao is not included in the squad. PSG were provided with two injury scares to work horses Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verrati. However, both look to be cleared to play after being named in the squad to travel to London. Serge Aurier remains suspended by the club.
- Diego Costa vs David Luiz
- Eden Hazard vs Marquinhos
- Angel Di Maria vs Baba Rahman
- Lucas Moura vs Cesar Azpilicueta
- Diego Costa has only ever scored one goal for Chelsea in the Champions League, this season against Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the Group Stage.
- In the past two encounters between these teams, David Luiz has scored a goal against Chelsea in both ties, an own goal in a 3-1 defeat when playing for Chelsea in 2014, then for PSG in the 2-2 draw last year.
- In the last 5 meetings between the sides, both teams have scored on every occasion but one, Chelsea’s 2-0 second leg win in 2014.