Injury-hit PSG Faces Chelsea in Last 16 of Champions League

Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc is out to save his reputation in the Champions League.

Published: 16th February 2015 10:07 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th February 2015 10:07 PM   |  A+A-


PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc is out to save his reputation in the Champions League.

Last season, Blanc was criticized for his cautious tactics against Chelsea in the second leg of the quarterfinals despite holding a 3-1 lead from the first match. On Tuesday, he will get another chance to advance.

Here are some things to know about Tuesday's game.



Blanc is waiting on the fitness of midfielder Blaise Matuidi after injuries decimated his side last weekend.

Midfielder Yohan Cabaye, winger Lucas, center half Lucas and right back Sergie Aurier all limped off injured in Saturday's 2-2 home draw with Caen and have been ruled out.

"Difficult circumstances such as these can bring players closer together and players closer to the fans," Blanc said Monday. "The fans need to understand that we're in a bit of a difficult situation."

Matuidi is rated as doubtful after taking a blow to his knee and, with Lucas out, Blanc needs Javier Pastore to be shake off a thigh injury.

The Argentine was PSG's best player when it beat Chelsea 3-1 in the home leg of the Champions League quarterfinals last season.



Chelsea forward Eden Hazard finds it much easier to combine with Diego Costa than he did with Fernando Torres, Costa's predecessor in attack.

Costa's 17 league goals in 19 games have helped propel Chelsea to the top of the Premier League. Torres, by comparison, scored only 20 league goals in 110 games.

Hazard thinks only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are in the same bracket as Costa.

"He is one of the best three strikers in the world," Hazard said on French TV show Telefoot. "He can score at any time, left foot, right foot. He can be a poacher, or you can play it long to him. He has everything to take Chelsea to the highest level."

Even the language barrier is easily overcome.

"We haven't spoken much because he doesn't speak English and I don't speak Spanish much," Hazard said. "But we understand each other on the pitch."



Paris Saint-Germain defender David Luiz gave an unusual response when comparing PSG coach Laurent Blanc with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

Luiz, who joined PSG from Chelsea during the offseason in a deal worth 50 million euros ($57 million), quipped: "Blanc and Mourinho, they are both ugly. As simple as that."

While playing for Chelsea in last season's quarterfinals, Luiz scored for Paris Saint-Germain with an own-goal. The Brazilian has started to look more assured in recent weeks after a difficult settling-in period with PSG.

The 27-year-old Luiz played for Chelsea from 2010-14, scoring 12 goals in 143 appearances, mostly as a defender and sometimes as a rampaging midfielder.

Luiz recently revealed that he turned down the offer of a new Chelsea contract because he felt Mourinho did not try hard enough to keep him.



Paris Saint-Germain's midfield faces a tough test against Chelsea, and the task could be made even harder without Matuidi.

If Matuidi fails to recover from his injury, coach Laurent Blanc will have to turn to 19-year-old Adrien Rabiot — who was linked with a move away from the club throughout the summer and winter transfer windows.

Rabiot has only a handful of Champions League appearances, and lack of experience could be exposed by a Chelsea midfield led by Cesc Fabregas and featuring the lightning-quick feet of Oscar.



Matches between the clubs have led to serious outbreaks of violence on Chelsea's two previous visits to Paris.

Police will be on alert around Gare du Nord train station — where the Eurostar arrives from London — and in other areas around the capital.

A heavy police presence for last year's quarterfinal match did not prevent trouble, however, with hooligans from PSG fighting with their Chelsea counterparts in the Chatelet area of central Paris.

More than 100 thugs threw glasses and other objects at each other and then clashed in the street, sending shoppers scattering for cover.

There was serious disorder involving even larger numbers close to the Parc des Princes when the clubs met in the group stage of the Champions League in 2004.

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