It looks only fitting for this wretched campaign that just when the much needed confidence, consistence, and good results are returning to Chelsea, the injuries are starting to hit hard as well.
While the backup strikers Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy have had their fair share of injury setbacks all along, their absences haven’t been too deeply felt thanks to the form of Diego Costa. But now, Kurt Zouma and skipper John Terry, the first-choice center back pairing, are both sidelined with injury, just in time for the Blues’ biggest ever match this season till now. Chelsea fans will look into the past and grab some consolation that some of their most memorable nights in Europe have come under even more harsh situations.
So, to make it 13 consecutive games unbeaten since the departure of Mourinho, Chelsea will have to fight with a makeshift defense. Courtois will be in goal certainly, hoping to end the match with a clean sheet preventing any scoring chance of PSG with his brilliance.
Ahead of him, the back four will be an unfamiliar one. Branislav Ivanovic will have to make his first start at the heart of defence in almost two years, alongside his partner from the 2013 Europa League final, Gary Cahill. He will be handed the responsibility to lead Chelsea in John Terry’s absence, having overcome his frustrating early-season form. Cesar Azpilicueta may be shifted at the right back (just his sixth all season, and first since November), while young lad Baba Rahman will have to face his biggest test as a Chelsea player on the left, going up against either a fearsome Angel Di Maria. Baba once earned some rave reviews for his impressive performance against Bayern Munich (albeit a Bayern down to 10-men and with the league title already wrapped up); Hiddink will need him to show up tonight.
The defensive challenge will become tougher by the absence of Nemanja Matic, suspended for yellow card accumulation, meaning the defensively less sound pair of Mikel and Fabregas will fill the holding midfield to the best of their ability. The French champions’ trio of Matuidi-Motta-Rabiot may be regarded one of the best in Europe (even in the absence Verratti) keeping in mind their recent form, so Chelsea’s defence will undoubtedly need plenty of help from the attacking band. That means Hiddink may start with both Oscar and Willian while Hazard and Costa will be handed the responsibility to make sure every goalscoring opportunity counted. If Hazard fails then Chelsea might substitute him with Pedro for even more defensive wing-play.
Diego Costa seems finally back close to his best, and much of the Chelsea hope rely on his success to staying on the pitch avoiding controversies and continue the goal hunt which has seen him score eight from last 10 games. Since Jose Mourinho’s departure from Stamford Bridge, Costa has become unstoppable, scoring almost in every match and the Chelsea fans know, with Costa firing, anything is possible.
Chelsea Predicted Line-up:
Courtois, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Baba Rahman, Mikel, Fabregas, Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Costa.