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VS

CHELSEA

Champions League Round of 16
Wednesday 18 February, 20.45 GMT
Parc des Princes
*****

Paris Saint Germain will welcome English league leaders Chelsea to the Parc des Princes on Tuesday, in a rematch of last yeara s Champions League quarter finals.

Team News & Tactical Brief

Paris Saint Germain

The Parisian side has a host of injuries to worry about as Yohan Cabaye (groin), Marquinhos (hamstring), Blaise Matuidi (knee), Serge Aurier (thigh) and Lucas Moura (hamstring) all sustained injuries, with the team finishing the game against Caen with nine men after making all of their substitutions. This could of course, make a huge impact on their Champions League progression hopes, along with rocking their title retention hopes. Lyon, Marseille and PSG are currently embroiled in a three-way title race and the depleted squad could well go on to cost Laurent Blanc’s side.

Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi are two PSG players who have suffered disappointment at the hands of Chelsea not once but twice. The pair were part of the Napoli side that in the 2012 round of 16 beat Chelsea 3-1 at home, but lost the second leg 4-1 at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea then went on to win the Champions League for the first time in their history. Last season, much like 2012, PSG won 3-1 at home but Jose Mourinho’s side staged a great comeback at home and went on to the semi-finals as a result. The entire PSG side would be looking for redemption this time, but Cavani and Lavezzi would be two players seeking it the most.

Time is running out for the 33 year old as the Champions League trophy still evades the talismanic Ibrahimovi . Against Chelsea, he is expected to make a big impact as he will be leading the hosts’ attack. Meanwhile, David Luiz will be facing his former side for the first time since his big money move last summer.

Laurent Blanc has increased the excitement for the match as he taunted his counterpart because of Chelsea’s shock defeat at the hands of Bradford City. Blanc said that had PSG lost to a team of Bradford City’s standing, there would have been a ”tsunami” of fury vented in his direction.

PSG haven’t been in the best form lately, and their injury worries would only add to the trouble. However, Chelsea is likely to adopt their sitting back approach and go with the objective of taking the game to the second leg. Hence, PSG should try and get a goal cushion so that they can go with a cautious approach in the next leg. The hosts should try and frustrate Cesc Fabregas as he is the main outlet of attack from the midfield and it has been observed that in whichever match he has been shut out, Chelsea have struggled with their attacks. The other player that will need individual treatment is undoubtedly Eden Hazard, Mourinho’s most threatening player. 27 year old Gregory van der Wiel will have to ensure that Hazard doesn’t cause many problems down that flank. Attack wise, if Pastore and Verrati could dominate the midfield, PSG have a real chance in the game.

Predicted Line-up (4-3-3): Sirigu; Van der Wiel; Silva, Luiz; Maxwell; Motta, Verrati, Pastore; Lavezzi, Cavani, Ivanovic

football formations

Chelsea

Chelsea will be in full-strength for this match and also have the benefit of getting a full week to prepare for this crucial fixture as they didn’t have FA Cup fixtures to worry about, something Blanc also called a stroke of genius by Mourinho.

While Cech has started cup competitions, Mourinho could well spring a surprise and give Courtois a go in goal in this tough game.While the Blues certainly have enough strength in their squad to be on the offensive from the outset, it would make more sense for them to go with a familiar approach and focus on defending in the away leg. Young French defender Kurt Zouma has been excellent since getting picked ahead of Gary Cahill against Liverpool in the Capital One Cup semi-final and should again be favored ahead of the Englishman in this big game. The defence will likely comprise Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry and Luis.

Diego Costa a who is yet to play since the 1-0 Capital One Cup victory vs Liverpool a will be back from his ban and will be raring to go. He hasn’t still scored outside of the Premier League competition this season, but has all the credentials to open his Champions League account for the Blues in this game.

Winter signing Juan Cuadrado will be available for this game and it will be interesting to see who Jose Mourinho picks – Willian or the Colombian? Eden Hazard and Oscar will start behind Diego Costa. The midfield is likely to comprise Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic

Chelsea remain the stronger of the two sides but shouldn’t get complacent as PSG remain unbeaten at home, despite their comparatively poor form. Injuries don’t help PSG’s cause as their depleted squad means virtually no menace on the bench. Chelsea will be expected sit deep and attack the hosts on the counter and will also probably frustrate the PSG buildup. By adopting their familiar approach, they could keep the game open in the second leg and get the win at home, where they will undoubtedly be favorites. The Blues should keep an eye on the very talented Marco Verratti as the Italian has the ability to boss the midfield and link the attacking play from the heart of the pitch.

Predicted Line-up (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Luis; Matic, Fabregas; Willian, Oscar. Hazard; Costa

Match Facts

  • Paris are aiming for a third successive appearance in the quarter-finals. A year ago at this stage a 4-0 win at Bayer 04 Leverkusen set up a 6-1 aggregate success.
  • The Parisian club have played nine matches against English sides with the record W2 D3 L4. At home it is W2 D1 L1.
  • The Blues are looking to reach a fourth quarter-final in five years, and a seventh in the last nine campaigns.

Player to look out for

Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

The timing of Chelsea announcing Eden Hazard has renewed his contract at the club is probably no coincident given PSG have held interest in the former Lille player for a while now with the player also making some suggestive statements in this regard a while ago. The Belgian international has been in sensational form of late and is likely to play a huge part in Chelsea’s Champions League campaign this season, and is expected to do well against PSG on Tuesday night as well.

Final Prediction

PSG 2 Chelsea 2

This match will be closer than many believe. Expect goals from both the attack leaders, Zlatan and Costa.

Blast from the past