Ever since the draw was made a couple of weeks ago, the respect between anyone affiliated with Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain has been nothing but admirable. The coaches Laurent Blanc and Jose Mourinho have expressed their admiration for one another as well as each other’s teams. Yohan Cabaye and his former Lille teammate Eden Hazard have also been very courteous in the build-up to proceedings. Heck, even the whiz-kids behind the club’s Social Media accounts have partaken in some friendly banter by trying to trump one another with stats on their respective clubs. Tonight however matters get serious as we look to take the initiative against one of the most tactically blessed sides in Europe. To put it simply, we need a result to take back to London!
The news that Gregory Van der Wiel will be out is a blow but it was to be expected. He has been struggling with his knee for weeks now and was in Germany just a few days ago for a medical examination. So, Christophe Jallet will continue at right-back but faces a harrowing task of trying to stop the in-form Hazard. That gives Edinson Cavani even more added responsibility. As well as his duties in attack, he will need to support Jallet when Chelsea look to exploit that wide area. I had a feeling Blanc may have fancied putting Lucas Moura in the side (for Ezequiel Lavezzi) if VDW had been fit but to help compensate for the Dutchman’s loss, it only makes sense for Cavani to help Jallet not get isolated.
‘El Matador’ will be just as pivotal in attack along with his partner in crime Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede made a very frank statement on his future yesterday and it is news that made Parisien supporters beam a wry smile. He is happy in Paris, does not want to leave and wants to win the Champions League with this club! He also believes he is in the form of his life. We all know that and the big man believes so as well: “I feel great. I think this is the best season of my career so far. I feel strong physically and mentally. I am very happy”.
Mourinho was courteous in his pre-match presser. Again, he showed Paris enormous respect and was also in good form, playing an April Fools prank by reading his team off a piece of paper (just the defence) before scrunching it up.
This game has a feel to the one last season against Barcelona. You sense the buzz and excitement from everyone associated with the club. There is a real belief as well that we can topple a club that has been so dominant in Europe for a decade.
PSG has been re-writing history this season. Does another chapter await?