Chelsea face the unenviable task of playing PSG tonight with European football next season hanging in the balance.
A poor season by their standards means that, whilst still possible, a top 4 finish is unlikely. Winning the Champions League is their only hope of making it into Europe’s premier club football competition but they have one hell of a task in doing so.
Old foes PSG head to Stamford Bridge with a 2-1 advantage following the first leg in Paris a fortnight ago, knowing that it is Chelsea, being at home and a goal down, that have to force the action.
But they will be weary, Chelsea upset the odds 2 years ago when a late Demba Ba goal eliminated the French champions and the same could happen again tonight with a 1-0 win.
PSG have looked shaky of late, losing to Lyon, their first defeat since November, as well as drawing with Montpellier. Add to this reported injuries to midfield stars Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti and Chelsea will know that they could do what some called the impossible, and eliminate the French side.
We spoke to Football Fanzone’s Jason Cundy about tonight’s crunch match at Stamford Bridge:
I don’t know if there is a good time to face PSG given their obvious quality, but their recent form and reported injuries will give Chelsea a massive boost.
Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti are titans in the middle of the park for them and are key to how they perform so if they are out, it’s a massive blow for Laurent Blanc’s side. That said I’ve heard that they could be fit and have been told that even if they are not at 100% they are more use on the pitch than in the stands or on the bench. Julien Laurens from French paper La Parisian seems to think the same too.
Having missed Saturday’s game with a minor tendon complaint I expect Costa to be fit and expect Fabregas to return and Willian to start. Realistically it should be the same team that played faced PSG first leg, that is unless John Terry is fit, Hiddink ruled him out of the game in a presser last week but could his comments have been smoke and mirrors? A fit Terry is a massive boost to our chances.
Chelsea will likely play identically to how they did first leg, they frustrated PSG with their defending but also created chances. Had Costa been more switched on, we could be going into the tie tonight level at 2-2.
The 1st half hour should prove interesting especially tactically. The way the tie is set up neither team needs to score in the first 30 minutes. PSG are comfortable with a 2-1 lead and Chelsea know that a 1-0 win can see them through. I expect it to be tight.
I’ve said it before that they aren’t particularly impressive at the back and can be got at, this increases tenfold if Matuidi and or Verratti are out, hence Blanc wanting them on the pitch.
PSG are no mugs though and Chelsea will be weary of the damage they can do going forward with their impressive array of attacking talent. We haven’t been as defensively solid as we have been in recent years, so will have to be careful too.
The last two ties have been settled on away goals and would be little surprise if this is too, a 1-0 win for Chelsea sees us through. Both teams are capable, so anything can happen when these two side clash tonight.