Wednesday, 2 April 2014

10 points that could decide Chelsea's Champions League quarter-final against PSG

Paris' Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Chelsea’s Champions League clash against Paris St-Germain has been touted by plenty of observers as the most difficult of this season’s Champions League quarter-finals to call.

Bookmakers have made Jose Mourinho’s side narrow favourites to progress but PSG are enjoying a successful season and, in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, have one of the world’s premier strikers in their ranks. Mourinho has an undoubted pedigree in this tournament though, having shown his talent with triumphant campaigns with both Porto and Inter Milan.
Check out a few facts that could decide the tie in our guide below.
1. Parc des Princes is a fortress
PSG have lost just one of their last 38 home games in all competitions - a run stretching back to November 17, 2012. Their only defeat during that period was in the French Cup, against Montpellier in January. Chelsea, by contrast, were beaten by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday and have won just one of their last six on the road.
2. PSG are in form
Laurent Blanc’s side should go into Wednesday’s game full of confidence. They have won their last nine games and are unbeaten in 13. The French champions were impressive in the last round too, beating Bayer Leverkusen 6-1 on aggregate.
3. Chelsea don’t concede many in Europe
The Blues have kept clean sheets in five of their last seven games in the Champions League - conceding only twice during that period. Jose Mourinho was full of his defence after Saturday’s defeat at Crystal Palace, stating: “They perform every game from day one to [the] last day.”
4. Mourinho has done it before
Unlike Blanc, the Portuguese has lifted the Champions League twice already - with Porto in 2004 and as Inter Milan manager six years later. Mourinho came close to European success in his first spell as Chelsea manager, twice reaching the semi-finals before losing to Liverpool on both occasions. If the Blues were to go all the way this year, Mourinho would become only the second man in history, after Bob Paisley, to win three European Cups.
5. And so have Chelsea
Who can forget that win against Bayern Munich in the 2012 final? Unlike Wednesday’s hosts, Chelsea have plenty of experience when it comes to progressing far in the Champions League - reaching at least the semi-final stage on five occasions in the last 10 years is testament to that.
6. Zlatan has been prolific
Ibrahimovic has been in red-hot form all season and has scored more goals in all competitions (40) than Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o, Demba Ba and Andre Schurrle put together (32).
7. But he is not the only danger
The Swede may be PSG’s top scorer this season, but fellow forwards Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi have weighed in with 30 goals in all competitions too. Mourinho’s side should know all about the threat of Cavani and Lavezzi  - the pair impressed during their time together at Napoli and both scored in a 3-1 win against Chelsea in February 2012.
8. Chelsea struggle in France
The Stamford Bridge side have not won in their last four visits across the Channel. Chelsea were beaten by Marseille in 2000 and 2010, and Monaco in 2004. In fact, the only time they haven’t lost in France since the turn of the century was in 2008, when Nicolas Anelka scored in a 1-1 draw against Bordeaux.
9. But Mourinho doesn’t
The Chelsea manager has an impressive record against French clubs - losing only one of the 15 games he has taken charge of. That defeat came over a decade ago too, a 1-0 Uefa Cup defeat at Lens while in charge of Porto.
10. PSG can afford to prioritise the Champions League
Blanc’s side have taken control of Ligue 1 again this season and are 13 points clear with seven games to play. That surely won’t be overhauled, meaning Blanc’s side can make European success their main focus now. Chelsea, meanwhile, are very much still in the Premier League title race, despite what their manager may say, and their game against Stoke at the weekend carries more importance than PSG’s fixture against Reims.
Irish Independent

No comments:

Post a comment