Chelsea welcome Paris Saint-Germain to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night for the Champions League Quarter Final second-leg, faced with an uphill task of overturning a two goal deficit.
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: April 8, 2014
Kick-off: 19:45 (BST), 11:45 AM Pacific
TV Info: Fox Sports 1 USA, ITV 1
The Blues put-in a disappointing display during the first-leg in Paris last week and compounded their misery by conceding a third goal late into injury time, which has made their task doubly difficult. However, Eden Hazard’s away goal means that Chelsea have something to fight for and will not have to look further away than 2012 for inspiration, when they managed to knock-out Napoli despite going down 3-1 in the first leg.
The Stamford Bridge crowd will be fully behind their team and Chelsea will have no other option than to go for the jugular. The usually pragmatic Mourinho will have to set his team to be more adventurous but also be mindful of the fact that conceding a goal will virtually end their faint hopes of qualifying.
Mourinho has enjoyed couple of glorious nights in the Champions League but if he is able to guide the Blues to the semi-finals this time around, it will certainly rank among his greatest victories in his illustrious career.
PSG on the other hand find themselves in a comfortable position thanks to Javier Pastore’s fine strike late into the game in the first leg. That being said, the job is only half-done and Laurent Blanc will not want his side to be complacent as even a single goal can change the whole complexion of the tie.
Therefore, PSG will be looking not to concede early on and given their luxury of attacking players, hope to catch Chelsea on the break. Blanc will certainly he preparing his side to put-up another professional display and see off the challenge posed by Chelsea, and in the process take another giant step towards becoming a powerhouse in European football.
Mourinho will not be able to call on the services of Ramires due suspension while the duo of Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah will be cup tied.
Petr Cech will start in goal and will be shielded by the back four consisting of Cesar Azpilicueta, John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic.
With Mourinho left with very few options in the middle of the park, David Luiz looks set to partner Frank Lampard at the heart of the midfield. Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian look most likely to start as the attacking outlet for Chelsea and the trio will certainly need to be at their best on Tuesday night in order for the Blues to stand a chance.
Considering Chelsea’s requirement to score at least a minimum of two goals, Mourinho had said that he will be willing to take a chance on Samuel Eto’o. However, if the striker is not passed fit for the clash, Mourinho will have no choice but to entrust his faith in the out of sorts Fernando Torres.
Unlike his counterpart, Lauren Blanc has a luxury of stars to choose from despite the injury suffered by talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Blanc made a raft of changes to his side in the victory against Stade de Reims in the weekend and will certainly reinstate most of his first team regulars on Tuesday night.
Salvatore Sirigu will be starting in goal and will be protected by the back-four of Thiago Silva, Alex, Maxwell and Christophe Jallet while the midfield will most likely consist of the solid trio of Blasie Matuidi, Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti.
In the absence of Ibrahimovic, Lucas Moura will probably get the nod to start upfront but he will be interchanging with Edinson Cavani as the match wears on. First leg hero Ezequiel Lavezzi will also be starting to complete the dangerous three-pronged attack.
The likes of Yohan Cabaye, Adrien Rabiot and Javier Pastore provide useful option from the bench if things do not go according to plan.
Paris Saint-Germain: Sirigu; Maxwell, Alex, Silva, Jallet; Lavezzi, Matuidi, Verratti, Motta, Moura; Cavani
Chelsea: Cech; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Ivanovic; ; Hazard, Luiz, Lampard, Oscar, Willian; Eto’o
Paris Saint-Germain: W W W W W
Chelsea: L W W L W
It is evident that the onus will be on Chelsea to go out and attack from the kick-off. An early goal for the Blues will certainly get the crowd going and make the PSG side a bit edgy.
That being said, Mourinho’s men can ill-afford to concede, as an away goal for PSG will virtually end the tie and deflate the players as well as the crowd.
PSG will be looking to invite Chelsea to attack and try to take their chance on the break, given their quick and powerful attacking lineup and the Blues will have be wary not let the Parisians sneak through the back door.
Chelsea’s striking problems have been their Achilles heel this season and they can certainly not afford to be profligate in front of goal on Tuesday. The Blues would have wanted to be in a better position but will now look to draw inspiration from the crowd and make it a night to remember.
However, PSG look just too good to let a two goal lead slip through their grasp and despite Chelsea’s best efforts, the French side look likely to progess into the semi-finals of the tournament.
Chelsea 2 -2 Paris Saint-Germain