The best thing to do after a bad result is to look forward and a quarter-final against PSG enables Chelsea to do just that. When Chelsea drew the reigning French champions the general consensus was “Well, it could be worse and it could be better” and I’d say that is a fair assessment. This tie is arguably the most even and intriguing of the four quarter-finals with the winner being tipped as the “dark horse”.
PSG are having an outstanding season. The Parisians are currently 13 points clear of rivals AS Monaco at the top of Ligue 1 and have conceded just 18 goals in 31 league games. Their recent form is equally impressive, winning 9 and drawing just 1 of the last 10 matches they’ve played.
However, there are a few results Chelsea can take heart and positives from, most notably in the Champions League. Bayer Leverkusen frustrated Laurent Blanc’s team for prolonged periods and Belgian champions managed a draw at the Parc Des Princes in the group stage. PSG also lost away at Benfica.
If there is one weakness that could be exploited, it’s PSG’s full-backs Jallet and Maxwell. Both are not blessed with genuine pace and perhaps this could be targeted by Hazard and Willian/Schürrle or even Ramires if Mourinho deploys him out wide.
Now, I would do a short fragment on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but frankly theres nothing more to say about him that hasn’t already been said. As well as the mercurial Swede, Cavani, Lavezzi and Matuidi can all be feared for a whole host of reasons.
But for me, there is one player that could ruin Chelsea’s chances of progress and that’s Thiago Motta. The Italian, until this season had been on the fringes but a injury free season has enabled him to cement his place in the team and make 36 appearances in the process. His reading of the game and defensive nous allows Verratti and most notably Matuidi to roam and create. The pace of the PSG play is dictated by Motta and his precise range of passing moves opposition players out of position and sparks many counter attacks. Its for this reason that Oscar should be a definite starter tomorrow night, his energy and mobility would qualify him to pester and sit on Motta. Oscar did a great job of harassing Andrea Pirlo last year at Stamford Bridge against Juventus.
Mourinho will obviously be more than aware of the threat Motta possesses with the latter a key part of Mourinho’s treble success with Inter Milan in 2009/10.
Away from the Bridge, Chelsea have been far from prolific and this is worrying. Away goals are so important and often pivotal in deciding the fate of a team. PSG have scored in EVERY home game this season, so if Chelsea do fail to score, the second leg would more than likely mean coming from behind and that’s not ideal. So it’s important that Chelsea go out to score rather than contain. Chelsea should take a leaf out of Ibrahimovic’s book and “Dare to Zlatan” in order to progress.