Finally a long wait for Champions League nights is over as Chelsea travel to Paris for the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.
As Jose Mourinho looks to win his first European trophy with Chelsea, Blues face PSG again this year, since they knocked PSG out in the quarter-finals last year.
Expectations from certain Key Players:
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic:
One thing that Laurent Blanc has found difficult is to handle Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The 33-year-old striker, known for his arrogant comments and ego, is nevertheless the leading goal scorer for the club with 11 goals scored in 17 appearances and has scored just seven goals in 33 Champions League knockout games.
Although with no efficient work rate, the Sweden International can be a deadly finisher, but does not have much influence in the game, in terms of creating space or chances for his teammates. Still, if he can keep his ego aside, and combine well with Edinson Cavani, he can well be the man to turn the evening in PSG’s favour.
2. Thiago Silva:
The reason behind PSG’s considerable number of clean sheets this season is their rock solid defence. With a goal difference of 21 in Ligue 1, they have conceded just 22 goals throughout the season.
The credit of improving defensive performance of the team over the last few months goes to the captain, Thiago Silva. The 30-year-old’s presence as a centre back and ability to take the authority, has also encouraged his fellow centre-back David Luiz to play calmly, with the freedom to push forward.
He has won the most aerial duels for his team. If at his best, he can be a tough wall for our attack to break, owing to his ability to block well and high concentration levels.
3. Edison Cavani:
The unlucky guy is back, accompanied by Lavezzi as four of their five games in the knockout stages of the Champions League have been against Chelsea (with Napoli and PSG) – they were knocked out both times even after a 3-1 win advantage in the First Leg.
Judging his recent form, he has not really been able to find his footings playing under the shadow of Ibrahimovic, with just 8 goals scored in 22 appearances in Ligue 1 and five goals in six Champions League games this season.
4. David Luiz:
The most expensive defender of the world or the geezer will face Chelsea for the first time in PSG colours, after a record signing to the French club last summer.
He will be out to prove a point to everyone, especially Mourinho and justify his record price tag. Only thing that’s predictable in Luiz’s case is that if he does score against Chelsea, he is not going to celebrate.
1. Diego Costa:
The beast is finally back after serving a 3-match domestic ban, courtesy of the “respected” FA. He has scored 17 goals and 2 assists in 19 league games, but is yet to find the net in Champions League.
The Spanish striker is fully fit after getting a long rest and is ready to move out again to the war field.
2. John Terry:
The Captain’s will be very crucial in these types of matches and he very well knows how to raise the level of the game. Expectations? He is very capable of scoring on set pieces, we might get to see him celebrate another today.
3. Cesc Fabregas:
Mourinho has raised some concern over the fitness of the Spaniard, but it might be a mind games. Even if he does start, is expected to start in number 10 role behind the striker. Being the leader in the assist table, he is expected to create some spaces and chances for the team-mates.
4. Eden Hazard:
‘The Belgian Wonder Boy’ – he has 9 goals and 5 assists in 25 league games and 2 goals and 2 assists in just 5 Champions League fixtures this term.
To the fact that Hazard has most successful dribbles, even ahead of Lionel Messi, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he ends up with a goal or assist and the most fouled player.
If there is a player on which the Stamford side rely the most is Namenja Matic. The defensive midfielder has been a crucial part to the success of the club since re-joining.
Adding to the fact, Chelsea have lost just 1 match in which Matic has played some part.
Courtois or Cech does not matter who gets the nod, both can be decisive in the fate of the match just like Cech against Everton.
These being few mentions that can be decisive in the battle but it does not restrict the limit to only this.
Adding to it, Oscar, Willian, Cuadrado, Ivanovic, Drogba, Zouma can add some spice and support to the star studded side of The Blues.
PSG are very well aware of the threat that awaits by the team which has thwarted them last year. The last thing they would want is to concede a goal in the first leg at home. But something has been missing in the PSG squad this season.
They’re third in Ligue 1, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been worryingly mortal at times and now they face Chelsea in the throes of an injury crisis. Yohan Cabaye, Lucas Moura, Blaise Matuidi and Javier Pastore are all doubtful.
Being unbeaten alongside Porto and Real Madrid, Chelsea will start the match as firm favourites. Judging the past encounters, the Blues have made a habit of finishing games off early and conserving energy. After beating PSG aside, which they should do comfortably, no team in Europe will want to draw them. Mourinho always take a defensive approach towards a big game especially if it is an away fixture.
Hence, GHJB’s prediction: PSG 1-1 CHELSEA
But with so many injuries can Paris Saint German do this?
Edited By: Harshal