Chelsea’s first priority will be to avoid defeat when they travel to France to tackle Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 clash on Tuesday (19:45 GMT, live on ITV1).
Paris Saint-Germain come into the match on the back of throwing away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Caen on Saturday. The reigning champions are third in the Ligue 1 table, with 49 points from 13 wins, 10 draws and two defeats.
Goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic (pictured) and Ezequiel Lavezzi saw Laurent Blanc’s side go into the break two goals to the good. At that point they seemed to be strolling to a routine victory, which would have be their eighth in their last 10 matches in all competitions, but after injuries had reduced them to nine men, Caen scored twice right at the death to snatch a point.
Blanc is far from sitting pretty, despite his side being solidly positioned in the title race. Some lacklustre performances and unrest within the squad have seen his position come under threat at various points during the campaign. Given the money spent since their takeover in 2011, the club’s Qatari owners could be forgiven for expecting a little more.
PSG qualified for the last 16 by finishing second in Group F, two points behind Barcelona with 13 points from four wins, one draw and one defeat. And their 3-2 home victory over the Catalans in September showed what a team featuring the multitude of talented players PSG have on their books should be capable of achieving on a more regular basis.
Blanc has confirmed that he expects Lucas Moura (knock), Marquinhos (thigh), Serge Aurier (muscle) and Yohan Cabaye (groin) to all miss out on Tuesday after going off injured against Caen. Javier Pastore (calf) has been out of action for a few weeks and is unlikely to be fit enough to take part, while Blaise Matuidi (knock) and Maxwell (knock) are further doubts.
Chelsea travel to Paris on the back of nearly a full week of rest in the wake in their 1-0 win at home to Everton on Wednesday. They top the Premier League table, seven points clear of their nearest challengers, with 59 points from 18 wins, five draws and two defeats.
Jose Mourinho’s side had plenty of shots in their victory over Everton but few were of great quality in face of a well-organised and determined defensive performance from their visitors. It took Chelsea until the 89th minute to finally get a breakthrough, with Willian volleying home a low, deflected effort from the edge of the area following a partially cleared set-piece.
It was a match that was reminiscent of those in which Chelsea dropped vital points during last season’s title race, but on this occasion they were able to get the late winner and maintain their healthy advantage at the top of the table. After being strengthened by some excellent summer signings, the Blues have lost just twice in the league this season.
Chelsea reached the Champions League knockout stages by finishing top of Group G ahead of Schalke, with 14 points from an undefeated record of four wins and two draws. Mourinho’s side reached the semi-finals last year and with the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa now on board, will be confident of at least matching that performance this time around.
Mourinho has no confirmed injury absentees for this game but Jon Obi Mikel (knee) and Oscar (muscle) do need to overcome the problems that saw them miss out against Everton.
Paris Saint-Germain v Chelsea Preview Betting Tips
Chelsea eliminated PSG on the away goals rule in last year’s Champions League quarter-final, recovering from a 3-1 defeat in Paris to win 2-0 in London and progress to the last four. The two sides previously met during the group stage of the 2004/05 competition, with Chelsea winning 3-0 away from home, while the match in London ended in a 0-0 draw.
PSG are a side who regularly perform worse than the sum of their expensively assembled parts. Their relatively timid display in the second leg of last year’s quarter-final tie between these sides was a clear failure on both a tactical and mental level. They will, however, be keen to replicate their first-leg performance from that encounter here.
Chelsea have improved a great deal since their victory over PSG in last year’s competition and will be confident of avoiding defeat in Paris this time around. They remain a defensively strong team but now have a greater variety of attacking options than those that were available to Mourinho at that time. Well-rested, they can be fancied to get a result.
- Bet on Chelsea on the ‘draw no bet’ market @ best odds of 19/20 with Coral.
- Costa will be raring to go after serving out a three-match domestic ban for violent conduct. He was rotated in and out of the side during the group stage but with 17 goals in 19 Premier League starts he can be expected to play a key, goalscoring, role during the knockouts. Back Diego Costa to score at anytime @ a current standout price of 2/1 with BetVictor.