Paris Saint-Germain vs Chelsea | Tuesday 17 February | Parc des Princes | 21:45
The Parc Des Princes plays host to a truly titanic clash this week, pitting the volatile Jose Mourinho against the stoic figure of Laurent Blanc. Chelsea are flying high in the Premier League, mixing displays of pure quality (Swansea City) with those of grit and determination (Everton). PSG, on the other hand, are embroiled in a gruelling defence of their Ligue A title that has taken a heavy toll on their European ambition. Blanc’s side are going to have to negotiate massive injury problems against a Chelsea side firing on full cylinders.
To Win (90mins)
The 2-2 draw this weekend against Caen, aside from creating a cataclysmic injury crisis for the club, must have left some psychological impact on France’s premier side. 2-0 up with minutes left to play, the Parc Des Princes bore witness to a stunning collapse that has left the league initiative with Lyon. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lavezzi were excellent going forward but then the injuries came. Marquinhos and Aurier were torn from the defensive line-up, while the penetrative figure of Lucas Moura and creativity of Yohan Cabaye will also be missing come Tuesday night.
Blaise Matuidi is apparently 50/50 to start, but given the threadbare nature of the squad I imagine he will have to. Javier Pastore will likely be drafted into the front three, while Maxwell and Van Der Wiel will have the unenviable task of keeping Willian and Hazard quiet. Verratti will look to cut down the supply line of Cesc Fabregas while the night will also play host to David Luiz’s grand reunion with Chelsea football club. The injury to Aurier will certainly see Luiz play alongside Thiago Silva, where the two Brazilians will have the task of taming former Brazilian Diego Costa. PSG are still a powerful side and their squad has impressive depth, but they come up against a settled Chelsea unit seemingly free from any major concerns.
Jose Mourinho’s men are in excellent form and will sense the enticing scent of blood in the water. Diego Costa will return to the starting lineup while Cesc Fabregas will likely be back to full fitness. Mourinho may have been hesitant to start the Spaniard if PSG were at full tilt; Ramires and Matic would have been the more cautious approach from the phlegmatic Portuguese. Now he will definitely deploy Fabregas in search of those elusive away goals. Hazard and Willian will certainly feature while Oscar should come in for new recruit Cuadrado.
We all know exactly how Mourinho operates; his side will soak up loads of pressure and look to counter-attack swiftly at any given opportunity. Defensive discontinuity in the French side should offer a distinct advantage to Chelsea while Costa’s battle with Luiz could well become an epic microcosm of the entire fixture. Mourinho’s side seems perfectly set up to pick up a result against injury ravaged PSG.
VERDICT: Chelsea 17/10
Both sides are priced up at an even 17/10 but given PSG’s injury catastrophes, it’s hard to really argue against the entire balance of the Chelsea side. Hazard’s explosive running will create space for the bulldozing figure of Costa to exploit. Matuidi may not be a hundred percent, which should allow Matic and Fabregas to control the middle of the park. The Ibra-effect is still a factor, but PSG’s defensive issues should be their undoing here, while Moura’s absence is a massive loss to the forward propulsion of the side. Back Chelsea at the gift price of 17/10.