Chelsea fell to a 2-1 defeat in the second leg of their Round of 16 Champions League tie against Ligue 1 outfit Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
The Blues had the difficult task of overcoming a 2-1 first-leg deficit against a superior PSG side, but goals from Adrien Rabiot and Zlatan Ibrahimović decided the tie in favour of the French champions.
Although Chelsea looked threatening after Diego Costa’s equaliser, their period of domination did not result in a second goal. Interim manager Guus Hiddink was disappointed that his team was ‘too respectful’ of the visitors at the start of the game, as well as the fact that the Blues were unable to capitalise on their opportunities.
“I am disappointed,” said Hiddink in his post-match comments (via chelseafc.com). “When you analyse the game we started too respectfully in the first 10 or 15 minutes, but they are a team who know the short possession game very well and you must be careful not to be outplayed in the first part of the match.
“We were too respectful but later on, at 1-0 down, we lost that wrong respect and we tried to defend more forcefully, we won duels and we got a deserved equaliser. We had chances to score in the 65th minute, we didn’t do so and in the 67thminute with a little attack they killed the game.”
The Dutchman also admitted that Chelsea are currently going through a transitional period, and that the club have a rebuilding job ahead of them. “In my opinion, Chelsea are now in a transitional period from where they have to see how to go on, and to try to regain the lost terrain where Chelsea used to be,” added Hiddink.
“It’s difficult to get in to fourth position, there is a very big gap. Chelsea must consider its short-term future on how to handle this, but they knew that beforehand.”
FA Cup Chelsea’s only hope of salvation
This was always going to be a critical week for Chelsea, with the second leg against PSG followed by an FA Cup quarter-final against Everton. The Blues are now out of the Champions League, meaning that a defeat at Goodison Park on Saturday could effectively end their campaign. Guus Hiddink has yet to lose in the FA Cup as Chelsea manager, and will hope to keep that run going all the way to the finals.
A top four finish in the Premier League is all but impossible, while getting into the top six will also prove to be difficult, given that the Blues are 9 points behind West Ham United and 7 behind Manchester United — the teams who currently occupy the fifth and sixth spot on the table.
Winning the FA Cup under Hiddink once again, as Chelsea did in 2009, would not only given the supporters a major boost after a disappointing season, but it would also enable the Blues to participate in European competition next season.