Champions League: Everything you need to know about PSG v Chelsea
The UEFA Champions League is back in full swing from next week and one of the most interesting matchups in the round of 16 is arguably Paris Saint Germain vs Chelsea. This is a rematch of last year’s Quarter Final when the Blues edged the Laurent Blanc’s side on away goals after a stirring comeback at home after they were down by goals after the first leg. We look at how the two teams have shaped up this season leading to the tie and also have a sneak peak into the old results from the matches played between these two teams.
Venue: Parc des Princes, Paris
Kick Off: 01:15 am IST
Chelsea’s season so far:
Chelsea are flying high in their domestic league with a lead of seven points over their nearest challengers Manchester City. The Blues have been nearly indomitable since the arrivals of the Spanish duo Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa last summer. The duo have fitted in seamlessly and have helped improve the way the team play. Eden Hazard, who has also had a brilliant season so far along with Willian and Oscar have formed a potent attacking three with an equal measure of work rate and creativity which the manager craves for. Hazard, a reported transfer target of PSG, has signed a new five and a half year deal to remain at Chelsea.
The arrival of the much sought after Columbian winger Juan Cuadrado further boosts the team. With his blistering pace and amazing dribbling skills, he offers further options for Mourinho. However, Chelsea have lost their second leg goal scorer from last season, Andre Schurrle-who moved to Wolfsburg last month. Defence wise they have tightened up considerably compared to last season with the matches against Tottenham Hotspur and Bradford City being the only exceptions. The arrival of Thibaut Courtois from Atletico Madrid back from loan has given stiff competition to Petr Cech with the Czech stopper managing only a few appearances so far this season.
Kurt Zouma has also proved to be a valuable addition to the squad.The youngster provides both pace and strength and is very hard to get past. He has provided an able foil for John Terry whenever they have been paired together at the heart of the defence. Felipe Luis, signed from Atletico Madrid for 16 million pounds has provided good cover for Cesar Azpilicueta. Apart from the Premier League and the Champions League, the Blues have also reached the final of the Capital One Cup which is to be played on March 1st. They were surprisingly knocked out of the FA Cup at home by Bradford City which has now proven to be blessing in disguise as it provides ample time for them to rest and prepare ahead of their trip to Paris.
- There are no injury new injury concerns for Chelsea.
- Mikel is the only player to be sidelined with injury. Felipe Luis started training last week and should make it to the matchday squad.
- Juan Cuadrado signed from Fiorentina is eligible to play in the Champions League as he represented his old club only in the Europa League group stages.
- Kurt Zouma is likely to keep his place in the starting line-up because of his pace and his experience in France.
- Diego Costa returns to the squad after missing the last three games due to suspension.
Possible Starting Line Up:
Paris Saint Germain’s season so far:
PSG have taken somewhat of a backstep from last season. They are struggling to defend their Ligue 1 crown and are currently in third place behind Lyon and Marseille. Having tied down on the transfer market by FFP, they were not able to enhance the quality of their squad by much. They paid a whopping 50 millions pounds to Chelsea for bring David Luiz to Parc Des Princes, a fee which was criticized by many pundits. Their play has been slow and frustrating at times this season. Their midfield has lacked the vigour and the chemistry needed to unlock the defences of big teams especially.
Their high point of the season is definitely the win over Barcelona at home followed by a 2-0 success against bitter rivals Marseille. However they have failed to repeat such performances time and again and hence have fallen down the Ligue 1 table and also managed to finish as runners up in the group stages of the Champions League after their loss away to Barcelona.
Their star performers this season have been Argentine playmaker Jaiver Pastore who is starting to look more like his old self and Jean-Christophe Bahebeck, the 21 year old attacking midfielder. He was written off by many people after returning from a loan spell at Valenciennes last season where he could contribute only two goals. But he has performed admirably well for Laurent Blanc’s side whenever given an opportunity. They have quality options in midfield in the form of Thiago Motta-a former favourite of Mourinho at Inter Milan, Blaise Matuidi, Marco Veratti and Yohan Cabaye. Edinson Cavani and Lucas Moura have also played decently up front but have not matched their potential. Add to that the Zlatan factor. So its a matter of time that PSG start to play well this season and they will definitely provide stiff competition to Chelsea.
What former Blues favourite and current PSG defender David Luiz had to say about Chelsea:
"Yes, Chelsea are better this season.Above all, they are better balanced following the arrival of Fabregas. He's perhaps the player they were missing: he balances the midfield, makes the team play well and knows how to hold on to the ball from time-to-time.With the arrival of Diego Costa ,a warrior forward who always wants to score and challenge defenders and the continuity provided by Mourinho in the dugout, it's logical Chelsea are stronger this season.”
- Yohan Cabaye (adductor muscle), Marquinhos (thigh), Serge Aurier (quadriceps) and Lucas Moura (adductor) are definitely out of the clash against Chelsea.
- Blaise Matuidi is rated 50-50 to make the starting line-up due to a knock suffered against Caen.
Speaking of injuries, manager Laurent Blanc was not too optimistic ahead of the Champions league clash. He said,”If someone had told me this story, I would not have believed it. We will play bravely, but there are not many solutions, with four or five injured. It’s an extraordinary challenge.”
Possible Starting Line Up:
- PSG finished runners up in their group despite gathering an impressive 13 points.
- Edinson Cavani is their top scorer with 5 goals in 6 appearances while his strike partner Ibrahimovic has 2 in 3 appearances.
- Chelsea finished top of their group with 14 points and are unbeaten in the competition.
- Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Nemanja Matic, Didier Drogba and John Terry have scored two goals each for the Blues.