Parc des Princes, Paris
April 02, 2014; 19:45 BST
Paris Saint-Germain will host Chelsea FC at Parc des Princes in the first leg of their highly anticipated Champions League quarter-final tie tomorrow. This is the first meeting between this two sides in this competition since 2004. This two clubs were drawn in Group H back in that season and PSG failed to score a single goal in the two matches against the Blues. Chelsea won their game in France 0-3 with Didier Drogba scoring a memorable brace. But it is a completely changed PSG side now and they are being considered as the dark horse in this year’s competition.
PSG are coming into this game on the back of a comfortable 0-1 win over Nice as Laurent Blanc rested a lot of his key players. That win extended their lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table to 13 points with Monaco dropping points against Evian Thonon Gaillard. The French side are currently on a nine match winning streak and they have lost just once at home in all competitions this season.
Chelsea on the other hand have won only five of their last 10 matches in all competitions. A run of form which has seen them lose their grip on the Premier League title race. They suffered an disappointing defeat against Crystal Palace in their last game as their poor run of form away from home continued. The Blues have won only one of their last six away matches in all competitions and will face an uphill task to change that record against PSG.
Team news and tactics
Laurent Blanc doesn’t have too many injury concerns ahead of this game against Chelsea with Gregory Van der Wiel likely to be the only miss. The 26-year-old’s last first team appearance was in the 0-3 win over Bastia and since then he has been unavailable due to an injury. He will still out in the match against Chelsea as well.
Other than Van der Wiel, Blanc has a nearly fully fit squad to choose from ahead of this game. There were some doubts about the fitness of Thiago Silva ahead of their match against Nice after he suffered a fracture in his cheekbone in their match against Lorient, but the center back played the whole ninety minutes against Nice – dismissing concerns about his fitness ahead of this game.
Having secured a massive lead over Monaco in the domestic league, Laurent Blanc had the luxury of resting a lot of his key players in the weekend’s match against Nice. He is expected to make four changes to the starting line-up he fielded in that game.
Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verrati will replace Yohan Cabaye and Javier Pastore in the midfield, while Maxwell replaces Lucas Digne in the defence. It will also be interesting to see whether Laurent Blanc prefers the experience of Alex or the youth of Marquinhos at the center of the defence. Blanc started with Alex in the first leg of their match against Bayer Leverkusen, but brought in Marquinhos in the second leg. In all likelihood Alex will get the opportunity to start against his former club tomorrow.
PSG’s main concern will be to take care of Eden Hazard’s threat in Chelsea’s attack. Jallet has been in good form recently, but he will be put under severe test, Verratti will have to help him out defensively in order to minimize the Belgium international’s influence.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Sirigu (GK); Jallet, Alex, Silva, Maxwell; Verratti, Motta, Matuidi; Cavani, Ibrahimovic, Lavezzi
Unlike Laurent Blanc, Jose Mourinho does have some injury concerns at the moment to contain with ahead of this game. Mohamed Salah and Nemanja Matic are ineligible to participate for Chelsea in the competition this season, hence the duo will be unavailable for selection. David Luiz was taken off at half time, during their match against Crystal Palace, with a knock on his shin and he will be checked ahead of kick-off to confirm his availability, but the Brazilian has travelled with the squad.
Samuel Eto’ who was substituted in the opening 10-minutes of the game against Arsenal with a hamstring problem, was absent from the squad that faced Crystal Palace at the weekend. The former Barcelona striker hasn’t travelled with the squad to Paris, although he is expected to recover in time for Chelsea’s game against Stoke City.
Ashley Cole is another absentee from the first team squad for this game as he struggles to recover from his knee ligament injury. He is expected to remain out for one more week before his return. Marco van Ginkel has shown good progress in recent times, but he is unlikely to feature for the first team any time soon.
Jose Mourinho is expected to make three changes to the starting eleven he selected against Crystal Palace at the weekend. He will switch back to a 4-2-3-1 formation after opting for a more counter-attacking tactics against Palace with a 4-3-3 formation. Ramires, who is serving suspension in the Premier League, will return to the midfield alongside Frank Lampard. In attack Oscar and Willian will make their way back into the side as Andre Schurrle and David Luiz drops back to the bench.
Containing PSG’s world class attack will be Chelsea’s biggest concern and the normally dependent pairing of John Terry and Gary Cahill will sure come under a lot of pressure from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been in brilliant form so far this season.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Cech (GK); Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Lampard, Ramires; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Torres
Players to watch-out for: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG); Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Prediction: PSG 1-0 Chelsea