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UEFA Champions League Quarter-final Preview: PSG vs Chelsea

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Chelsea’s Champions League adventure resumes once again with the tough challenge of facing cash-rich Ligue-1 giants Paris St-Germain in the first leg of quarterfinal in Paris on Wednesday. Jose Mourinho’s men have been off the boil in the last couple of weeks, and despite having beaten title rivals Arsenal 6-0 not so long ago, The Blues have quite a few issues to sort out on Wednesday night, when they travel to the Parc des Princes for the first leg of the highly anticipated European tie.

Although having the second leg at home presents Chelsea with a slight advantage, Mourinho’s men will have to make sure they don’t have to do too much at the fortress that is Stamford Bridge, by coming out of Paris with a good result.

PSG on the other hand are high on confidence after opening up a 13 point gap at the top of the Ligue-1 standings but their manager Laurent Blanc knows that the quality of opposition on Wednesday will be far greater than their routine league opponents.

Here is what both the camps could look like ahead of the crunch tie:

Paris St Germain:

PSG boss Laurent Blanc is happy with getting upto 5 days to prepare for the Blues’ clash, but believes that his team will have to play a whole lot better than they did at the weekend in their 1-0 win against Nice.

The likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani will be the key men up front for Laurent Blanc’s men, and the French manager will want his ace strike duo to score on their home ground to ensure that PSG take an advantage with them to Stamford Bridge.

Blanc also recognizes that his team will need to be clinical in front of goal against Chelsea, who keep a strong defensive shape under Mourinho and will not let too many chances fall to the opposition.

The spotlight will also be on PSG’s new signing from the Premier League, Yohan Cabaye, in midfield and it will be interesting to see if the former Lille man can pull the strings against a strong Chelsea side.

Chelsea will play the extra man in midfield as they will close down the spaces and one reckons that PSG’s main threat could be in the midfield area where Chelsea press to regain possession.

Chelsea:

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho will know that he will need to gee his players up to their highest motivation levels following 2 defeats from their last 3 league games. Chelsea’s defence will likely be put to one of their sternest tests on Wednesday as they hope to stop the imposing trio of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani.

Chelsea’s tall and strong enforcer in midfielder, Nemanja Matic, could be a crucial member for the Blues as he will look to hold down towering striker Ibrahimovic. Chelsea’s play could be predictable on the counter attack but the PSG defence will need to watch for the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian on the counter attack as they can rip any defence to shreds with their speed and precision of attack.

Likely XIs

PSG(4-3-3): S Sirigu; C Jallet, T Silva, Maquinhos/Alex, Maxwell; J Pastore, Y Cabaye, B Matuidi/A Rabiot; E Lavezzi, Z Ibrahimovic, E Cavani

Laurent Blanc sets his side up in a 4-3-3 formation with the likes of Salvatore Sirigu in goal, behind a back for possibly of Christophe Jallet, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Maxwell. PSG have been playing two wide midfielders of late but they might opt to keep the likes of Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi as sitting midfielders ahead of the defence in this game. Javier Pastore could then play in a N0.10 role behind the strike trio of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): P Cech, B Ivanovic, G Cahill, J Terry, C Azpilicueta; N Matic, Ramires; E Hazard, Oscar, Willian/Schurrle; S Eto’o

Chelsea could field their customary formation with 2 sitting midfielders in Nemanja Matic and Ramires sitting in front of a back four comprising of Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill and Azpilicueta. They could play experienced Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o up front again, given his superior work-rate and hope that he feeds off the interplay between the Blues’ creative forces in Oscar, Hazard and Willian behind him.

Match Prediction: Chelsea are not very expansive away from home against quality opposition so they will keep men behind the ball and hope to hit PSG on the counter attack. Mourinho will play for a draw as it becomes a good leg before the second leg at Stamford Bridge, while his opposite number Blanc will be hoping that PSG get their fluent game going and score regularly.

Score Prediction: PSG 2-1 Chelsea