Last time Chelsea hosted Paris Saint Germain, the French side scored two goals at Stamford Bridge to earn a draw and knock the Blues out of the Champions League – despite the first half sending off of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
That was a year ago; since then the two teams have already resumed hostilities, PSG winning 2-1 at the Parc des Princes last month, as the West London side nabbed an away goal courtesy of John Obi Mikel.
The loss in Paris is Chelsea’s sole defeat since Guus Hiddink took the reins; so can the Dutchman keep his impressive record alive against opposition that aren’t exactly used to getting turned over themselves?
In fact, PSG have lost just twice all season; first in the Champions League, when they came up against Real Madrid, and more recently (and surprisingly), vs Lyon in Ligue 1. That defeat came at the end of February, and this weekend the side also had to settle for a goalless draw against Montpellier, though Laurent Blanc rested players including captain Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Thiago Motta and Zlatan.
The French side can afford to drop a few points here and there of course; they’re currently 23 points clear at the top of their domestic league. PSG may also be bolstered on Wednesday by the return of midfielders Marco Veratti and Blaise Matuidi, who’ve both had time out with injuries lately but are included in the squad for this game. And Angel di Maria, Edinson Cavani and Lucas Moura are all fit and potential starters.
That’s quite a line-up. But with more than usual at stake for Chelsea, too, the Premier League team will be fighting tooth and nail to overcome their distinguished visitors. After all, the west London club are playing for their Champions League future, not just in this campaign but the next. Currently sat at 10th place in the Premier League, if Hiddink’s side exit this competition on Wednesday, they have little hope of qualifying for European action next season.
Chelsea will probably be without John Terry, who has been training with the squad but will likely not be fit to play on Wednesday, according to Hiddink. But Diego Costa and Pedro could both return, having missed out when Chelsea hosted Stoke in a 1-1 draw at the weekend.
That result won’t imbue more skittish followers of the club with much confidence, admittedly. While Hiddink’s team is unbeaten, Chelsea have drawn seven matches under their current manager, five at Stamford Bridge. If the likes of Stoke, Man Utd, West Brom and Watford can hold out against Chelsea on the Londoner’s home turf, you’d have to think that Paris St Germain can get something out of this game. The draw is available at 12/5.
As far as the key personnel go, Diego Costa hasn’t had the best of luck in the Champions League, with a record that’s seen him fail to find the net in his last six outings. Does that mean he’s due to score, or set for more suffering on Wednesday?
He’s certainly liable to be fired up for this one, after being labelled a ‘fraud’ by PSG’s official Twitter feed. If you’re a believer, you can back Diego Costa at 19/4 to open the scoring, or 31/20 to score at any time (90 minutes).
For PSG, Zlatan is obviously a huge threat – but is priced accordingly, 7/5 to score at any time (90 mins). Edinson Cavani is available at 2/1 in the same anytime goal scorer market, and has a good record against Chelsea in the Champions League with three goals to date – none at Stamford Bridge, though. Otherwise, Angel di Maria, who’s scored some absolute crackers for PSG this season, can be backed at 11/4 to score at any time.