After a hard earned and deserving victory against West Ham United in the Premier League, we turn our attention towards the 2nd leg in the Round of 16 – UEFA Champions League, where Chelsea face PSG at Stamford Bridge.
Last season it was the Champions League quarter-finals when these two sides met. Chelsea after losing 3-1 in the away leg, overturned the deficit by winning 2-0 at the Bridge. This time around the Blues are placed in a better position for the 2nd leg with a 1-1 draw at Parc des Princes.
Let’s take a detailed look at our opponents:
The history of the team:
Based in Paris, Paris Saint-Germain was founded on 12 August 1970 following the merger of Paris FC and Stade Saint-Germain. PSG has competed in Ligue 1 since 1974. PSG is the third most successful club in Paris and one of only two French clubs (with Marseille) to win a major European club competition. The Parc des Princes has been the home stadium of PSG since 1974.
Paris Saint-Germain are currently placed 2nd in Ligue-1, have reached the final of the French League Cup and in the semi-final of their domestic cup. They won their last game 4-1 against Lens on Saturday and there have been signs of them finding their best form. A very strong team en route a domestic domination with the possibility of becoming the first French club to win a domestic treble of major trophies.
Form in Champions League: W-W-W-W-L-D
Form in all competitions: D-D-W-D-W-W
Formation and style of play:
Manager Laurent Blanc has to decide between his preferred 4-2-3-1 setup with Zlatan as the sole striker or head out in a 4-3-3 formation with Cavani playing alongside Ibrahimovic. The Parisians are predicted to start with an all Brazilian back four with David Luiz moving back into Paris St Germain’s central defense and Marquinho will be tasked to nullify Eden Hazard.
PSG are an extremely dominant team, with star players like Cavani and Ibrahimovic they are used to bullying defenders with their physicality. Thiago Motta is back in action and will be protecting the back four, while Marco Verratti usually lines up in a deep lying playmaking role as they play with two wide and fast wingers. The Parisians are certainly much more faster since the last time they visited Stamford Bridge.
For this high profile fixture manager Laurent Blanc will be without Brazilian winger Lucas and right back Serge Aurier. Both are recovering from an injury. After missing the first leg, midfielder Yohan Cabaye has recovered from a groin injury and has been included in the squad. Thiago Motta is again available as the holding midfielder which means ex-Chelsea defender David Luiz will move back to the central defense alongside Thiago Silva while Marquinho moves to the right-back position.
Strength – Key Player
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – The Swedish international still remains a key player to this PSG side. The 33-year-old striker remains their most potent attacking threat with 12 goals in 19 games in Ligue-1 and 16 goals in all competitions. It was his absence at Stamford Bridge last year that was arguably the biggest factor in Chelsea’s eventual win. He was a threat for the Chelsea defense at Parc des Princes, Thibaut Courtois’ death defying saves were the only reason Zlatan Ibrahimovic did not end up on the score sheet.
Laurent Blanc faces a certain power struggle with his front two stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani. The PSG captain and Cavani have a complicated relationship, the last time an Ibrahimovic pass set up a Cavani goal was against Evian in January.
Blanc tends to assign Cavani to the wider attacking positions, a position not preferred by the Uruguayan international. Defenders tend to exploit this weak link between the two strikers making them predictable during goal scoring opportunities.
Head to Head:
PSG and Chelsea have gone head to head five times in the history. Chelsea have won 2 of the 5 games with The Parisians winning once and both teams have shared points twice.
The Blues certainly have the edge over their French opponents, courtesy of their away goal, so a 0-0 scoreline would see Chelsea progress to the next round of the competition. Paris Saint-Germain have had to play a League match on Sunday whereas Chelsea have had a 7 day break since their last match against West Ham United.
PSG are a great team capable of scoring anywhere with the amount of attacking talent they possess, Chelsea on the other hand are experts in soaking up the pressure and it will be interesting to see whether Mourinho can tactically outsmart Laurent Blanc yet again. This is bound to be a difficult and entertaining thriller of a game.
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Edited By: Harshal Ahire