Chelsea V Paris St Germain
Tuesday 8th April. 7:45PM. itv 1
Jose Mourinho’s managerial CV is laden with stardust, but even the Special One may struggle to pull the rabbit out of the hat when Chelsea square up against Paris St Germain in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie on Tuesday night.
A defensive lapse of concentration at the Parc des Princes last week, which allowed Javier Pastore to seal a 3-1 victory for the Ligue 1 leaders with an injury-time strike, has left the Blues with a veritable mountain to climb at Stamford Bridge.
A tactical conundrum for the master tactician
There is no doubt that Mourinho is a master tactician, but on Tuesday evening he will be faced with a real tactical conundrum.
Chelsea need to score at least twice in west London to have any chance of progressing, but they will need to remain defensively alert while in pursuit of goals, as PSG are deadly on the counter attack.
Ominously for the Blues, the French outfit boast a terrific record on the road in this competition, scoring in each of their last eight Champions League away matches and losing just one of the games in question.
No Zlatan, no problem
Just in case anyone had forgotten that he’s one of the best strikers in the business, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has reminded everyone of that fact by netting 40 goals this season.
Ibracadabra has, however, been ruled out of Tuesday’s game with a thigh injury. For most clubs in Europe losing a player of the Swede’s calibre for a match of this magnitude would be a catastrophic blow. But PSG are an exception.
The Les Rouge-et-Bleu squad is littered with world-class talent and in Ibra’s absence Blanc will be able to deploy another two of the best forwards in the game, Edison Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi, at Stamford Bridge. No Zlatan, no problem, then.
The Blues are not so well-endowed when it comes to strikers, but they will be buoyed by the fact that Samuel Eto’o will be available for selection, having recovered from a hamstring injury. The 33-year-old’s experience and, moreover, goal-scoring instinct will be vital to Chelsea’s hopes of rescuing this tie.
Chelsea v Paris St Germain betting
The home side are odds on across the board to win this crucial decider, but it’s no surprise to see that PSG are as short as 1/4 in the ‘to qualify’ betting, with Chelsea a top-priced 3/1 with Bet Victor in that market.
Jose Mourinho’s charges are capable of beating any side in their own backyard, but it will be crucial that they start positively. Score the first goal, and the Blues’ tails will be up; concede first and the wind will be taken out of their sail. There’s little margin for error.
When push comes to shove, it’s hard not to envisage the visitors scoring, so chances are Chelsea will need to score at least three to have any chance of progressing to the last four of the tournament. It would be some achievement if they were they to succeed, but I fear it may be too steep a mountain to climb.
Value-seekers may sniff at this recommendation, but to my mind the best bet of the match is undoubtedly the BTTS at 11/13 with 888sport – as far as odds on shots go, you could do a lot worse.