Saturday, 12 March 2016 00:00

Chelsea v PSG 2016

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Chelsea v PSG march 2016 Chelsea v PSG march 2016 http://www.theguardian.com

 In a season of despair, Champions League has been the lone ray of satisfaction for Chelsea. That will be put to a stern French test as they await Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge for the second leg of round-of-16 clash.

 

PSG won the first leg 2-1 making the return leg one of the most important games for Chelsea this season. Can Chelsea overturn the deficit? .

A year of two halves! .

The story of Chelsea this year is better told in two parts – before and after Hiddink. The season of high hopes suddenly transformed into a season of anguish under the beleaguered manager Jose Mourinho. They looked clueless and listless in every game eventually leading to the sacking of the ‘Chosen One’. .

Without getting too much into Mourinho’s sacking, it is safe to say that his replacement Guus Hiddink has brought stability on and off the pitch. The team is looking sharp again and results are taking care of itself. They are unbeaten in the Premier League under Hiddink so far, still harbouring slim chances of qualifying for Europe next year. Can this pour into Champions League too? .

Chelsea…PSG…Chelsea? .

This is the third straight season that the Blues are up against the French Champions. In 2014, they defeated PSG at the quarter-final stage on away goals rule while last year PSG repeated the dose at the last-16 stage. .

Will the altering results continue and will Chelsea progress this year on away goals rule? .

Missing general.

One person the Blues would have loved for a match of this magnitude is their talismanic leader John Terry. The 35-year-old veteran defender is out of the clash after being ruled out with a hamstring problem – the same problem that kept him out of action for the last five matches. .

It’s a massive game and such games demand cool heads leading the troops at the centre of defence. Chelsea could potentially be overawed by the situation without Terry in the ranks. This is not doubting the potential of the replacements but Terry is Terry! .

Costa comes back.

The bulwark forward Diego Costa though, is available for selection having recovered from the minor tendon problem – and so is the Spanish winger Pedro. This clears the path for an exciting tussle between former Blue David Luiz and Costa – expect some fireworks there. .

What does Opta stats say? .

This is the 12th time in the last 13 seasons that Chelsea are in the knockout stages of Champions League – which is a glowing tribute to their consistency on continental stage. They’ve reached the quarter-finals on eight of these occasions which makes them a favourite by numbers. .

PSG have been eliminated in the quarter finals in the last three campaigns making this run of four consecutive round-of-16 appearances their best ever. .

Prediction.

Losing Terry to an injury is a big blow in a tough game like this although Chelsea have it in them to cover up his absence. Luiz versus Costa will be a mini battle and could determine who wins the tie. Costa could still end up being a scorer for Chelsea. .

Chelsea could prove a handful for PSG and don’t be surprised if they end up 2-0 winners on the night progressing on away goals rule, again! .

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