Chelsea have a tough test on hand when they come up against Paris-Saint-Germain in their Champions League last 16 clash in the French capital.
The two teams interestingly have faced each other in each of the last two seasons, with PSG seeing off Chelsea on away goals at the same stage last season. However, the struggling Premier League champions eased past the Ligue 1 giants in the quarter-finals the season before, similarly, on away goals.
Tonight’s meeting will possibly be an even more thrilling clash, though, considering the fact that Chelsea have somehow managed to pick themselves back up under new boss Guus Hiddink after their nightmarish start to the campaign.
Meanwhile, Laurent Blanc’s boys have continuously blown away their opponents in French league, recently clinching a new record of 32 games without defeat in Ligue 1.
However, Chelsea will certainly be boosted as they bulldozed Newcastle United 5-1 on Saturday although one negative from the league fixture was the injury picked by skipper John Terry.
The Blues high on spirit will take on PSG in the first leg of their last 16 tie on Tuesday 16 February at 7.45pm. The highly anticipated clash will be played at the Parc des Princes.
Chelsea will be without the service of Terry in Paris as the skipper being left behind in London due to a minor hamstring and ligament problem which he picked up against Newcastle on Saturday. Hiddink will also miss Kurt Zouma, who is sadly out of action for the remaining of the season while struggling Radamel Falcao continuing his recovery from a thigh strain and Alexandre Pato still fighting hard to regain full match fitness back in London. But the good news is Oscar despite not playing against the Magpies, has made the trip to the French capital after overcoming a slight calf injury while new signing Matt Miazga and 18-year-old defender Jake Clarke-Salter also find their name in the Paris squad as defensive cover options.
Blanc, on the other hand, confirmed earlier that Marco Verratti and Javier Pastore are not likely to be risked against Chelsea after both of them returned to action from their respective injuries recently. Defender Serge Aurier will also miss the high-voltage clash after being suspended by PSG due to the emergence of the alleged online video footage of the player insulting his teammates and manager Blanc, an act for which he has since apologised for, but that didn’t work.
PSG: Trapp; Van der Wiel, Thiago Silva, Luiz, Maxwell; Motta, Matuidi; Rabiot, Di Maria, Lucas; Ibrahimovic
Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Baba Rahman; Mikel, Fabregas; Hazard, Oscar, Willian; Costa.
Thiago Silva vs Diego Costa
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. Meanwhile, the Brazilian centre-half Thiago Silva, regarded by most as the best defender in the world right now, will be in charge to organise the defence to clinch a clean sheet. The last two meeting between these sides have been decided on away goals and Chelsea could do with one at the Parc des Princes.
Ibrahimovic vs Ivanovic
Both of them rarely accused of lacking passion, and certainly more fired up than ever. Ivanovic will be handed the responsibility to lead Chelsea in John Terry’s absence, having overcome his frustrating early-season form. Ibrahimovic who will be out of contract this summer is still searching for the coveted glory in Europe’s elite competition, the one tournament to elude him. The Swedish superstar has certainly endured a year of regret for his dismissal at Stamford Bridge with a foul on Oscar when he branded Chelsea players ‘cry babies’. And his anger is reignited by the casual insult from his teammate Serge Aurier.
four of Chelsea’s last five away games in the Champions League knockout stages have ended in draws (L1).
Paris Saint-Germain have won one of their six Champions League games against Chelsea (3-1 at home in April 2014), drawing three and losing two.
Chelsea’s only away win against a French side in the Champions League came in September 2004 when they beat PSG at the Parc des Princes (3-0). The Blues have also drawn two and lost four.
The Ligue 1 club have lost only one of their last 37 home games in European competition (W24 D12), that was against Barcelona in April 2015 (1-3).
PSG are winless in their last five Champions League games played in the knockout stages (D2 L3).
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored seven goals in 36 Champions League knockout games. In the group stages, he has found the net 38 times in 79 games.
Blanc’s team are the only side, alongside Juventus and Real Madrid, yet to concede a goal at home in the Champions League this season.
There have been eight goals scored from direct free-kicks in the Champions League this season, four of them by Willian.
Chelsea might have proved themselves as a tough side to beat under Guus Hiddink, but this PSG side is in devastating form at the moment. They will step into the match with some serious hopes to go further than ever before in Champions League this season. Chelsea will, however, make things more difficult than the league tables may display, but we go for PSG 3-1Chelsea.