Chelsea’s reward for sailing into the knockout stages unbeaten is a testing match against the French giants Paris Saint-Germain. Last season it turned out to be a disastrous performance at Parc des Princes. Yet the Blues did not lose hope and outperformed PSG at the Bridge in a nail biting finish to reach the semi-final of Champions League 2013/14.
Chelsea are undoubtedly stronger now than when Jose Mourinho’s team last beat Paris Saint-Germain. In fact, both teams have made significant changes to their squads with the arrival of new summer signings but the Blues might just have the edge over their French counterparts.
Chelsea have two of the top five goalkeepers in Europe; with Thibaut Courtois returning to his parent club and Petr Cech playing deputy to the Belgian. The Blues have their own goal line completely safeguarded.
Terry and Cahill played an important part keeping Cavani quite at the Bridge; the duo are fantastic at their centre-back position winning crucial headers, clearing threatening balls and scoring off of set pieces. Last season Azipilicueta was the man to beat in his position, but he had never been a threat going forward. With the addition of the dynamic Filipe Luis Mourinho has a left-back who can make crucial crosses and also come to the left winger’s assistance before propelling him through to a more attacking-wide position.
Branislav Ivanovic is seen going forward more than ever this season; his crosses in the box have significantly improved. The Serbian has dominated the right-back position with his strength and rarely falters.
Perhaps the most significant change to this Chelsea side is their new midfield duo Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas. One must keep in mind, that Matic was not eligible to play for the Blues in the Champions League after his January transfer. This time however, it will be a difficult task for PSG to get through a wall like Nemanja Matic; the Serbian has been one of the most influential players for the Blues this season.
Cesc Fabregas is perhaps the best summer signing this season for Mourinho. The Spaniard has 15 assists in 22 games and can create numerous chances. In addition, Matic and Fabregas compliment each other well; backing up the other when needed. This midfield duo can win back possession in an effortless fashion and make sure the game is played at their desired pace.
This season Mourinho’s men have been more offensive than defensive. Eden Hazard has conquered the left wing and is a menace to the opposing right back. The trio behind the center-forward: Hazard, Oscar and Willian read each others’ game-styles admirably well. With their addition of great pace in counterattacking situations, PSG will have a tough task keeping all three of them at bay.
Another great improvement this season has been in the striker’s position, which was more-or-less unpresent last season. Diego Costa has achieved success in a quick span and adapted well to the current Chelsea squad. The Spaniard can bully the PSG defenders and is a brilliant box to box striker. Didier Drogba’s fairytale of a career for Chelsea has also not come to an end. Unlike last season PSG can’t afford to single out Eden Hazard; With players like Costa and Oscar who would destroy a defense given the opportunity. Defensively the French giants will have a tough time.
It’s always a strong bench that makes a great squad. The Blues certainly have a stronger bench this season with striking options Didier Drogba and Loïc Remy helping the team when brought on. Andre Schurrle is back to his best with his recently found form (and success) and to have a backup goalkeeper like Petr Cech in a team is on every club’s wishlist. Mikel, too, is capable of performing really well when brought on.
The Chelsea bench also features youth sensations, being warmed by the likes of Nathan Ake, Christensen and Solanke to name a few; who are constant performers when it comes to playing for the U19 team.
Laurent Blanc will be out for revenge after last season’s failure to secure a spot in the semi-finals and Jose Mourinho will make sure his squad performs much better than last season. David Luiz will face his former employers and will be raring to prove his £50 million price tag. Come this February the real Champions League test begins for the Blues and with only 1 defeat in 27 games Chelsea will be hoping to roll over PSG with assuring and ruthless performances home and away.
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Edited By: Karthik Janardhan