Tough task facing Blues
Matt Brocklebank looks ahead to tonight's Champions League quarter-final second leg between Chelsea and PSG.
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Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain lock horns for the second time within a week for the return leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Stamford Bridge. Both sides enjoyed comfortable weekend wins in the meantime, Chelsea resting a few key players for their 3-0 victory over Stoke and PSG moving 13 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after beating Reims by the same scoreline. The 2012 winners Chelsea have got to the Champions League semi-finals, or beyond, six times since the competition's inception in 1992, while their French rivals have made the semis just once in that period, losing 3-0 on aggregate to AC Milan.
PSG arrive in London with a two-goal cushion after winning the opening encounter 3-1. Laurent Blanc's side hit their visitors early, Ezequiel Lavezzi finding the roof of the net with a smart half-volley on the turn after just four minutes. Eden Hazard levelled for Chelsea from the spot just before the half-hour mark and the sides went into the break all square. PSG suffered a major blow when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was forced off through injury after 68 minutes, but a David Luiz own goal had put the hosts 2-1 up by then. The real hammer blow came in the final of three added minutes as substitute Javier Pastore wriggled away from his man and fired low past Petr Cech at the near post to make it 3-1.
Chelsea's Samuel Eto'o could be risked despite his recent hamstring injury. The striker has missed the last three matches, including the first leg of this tie when Jose Mourinho fielded a strikerless starting XI, with Fernando Torres overlooked before returning for Saturday's win over Stoke. Ramires is suspended for the Blues, Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are ineligible and Marco van Ginkel could be included on the substitutes' bench after his lengthy knee injury. PSG will be without top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic due to injury, with Edinson Cavani expected to deputise at centre-forward, enabling Lucas Moura to come into the team on the right wing.
Players to watch:
Willian - Chelsea pipped Tottenham to the signing of Willian at the end of the summer transfer window, the Brazilian moving from Anzhi Makhachkala for an undisclosed fee. He has had to fight for his shirt but looks to have usurped Oscar in his manager's Plan A and has produced a string of top-class performances in recent weeks. He played the full 90 at the Parc des Princes and found the net against Stoke on Saturday before being rested after 78. The 25-year-old hasn't scored for Chelsea in the Champions League this term but he has two assists in the competition and could have a pivotal role to play as the Stamford Bridge outfit look to turn things around.
Marco Verratti - PSG's Italian playmaker Verratti is still only 21 and remains one of the brightest midfield prospects in French football. Bought from his home-town club Pescara in 2012, he signed a contract extension with the French giants in August which will keep him at the club until 2018. Without a goal in 78 appearances for PSG so far, don't expect fireworks from the little maestro, but rather a cool head in the middle of the park, which is just what his side will need if they are to resist Chelsea's attacks and possibly sneak an away goal on the break.
Chelsea are odds-on favourites at 5/6 to win the match in 90 minutes, with the draw second-favourite at 5/2 and PSG available at 100/30, although the Blues are 11/4 to qualify, with the Paris outfit 2/7 to reach the semi-finals.
A 2-0 success for Chelsea would be enough and that is one of several notable Price Boosts on this match - now 8/1 from 7/1.
The only outcome that would result in the game going to extra-time is a 3-1 Chelsea win, which is priced at 14/1 with the Leeds-based firm.
Either team to win in extra-time is 25/1 and either team to progress after a penalty shootout is 33/1.
Chelsea are up against it after a lapse in concentration in the dying moments of the first leg cost them dearly in Paris. Their home record under Jose Mourinho now stands at 78 games unbeaten and that trend may well continue. John Terry and Gary Cahill's partnership has become one of the strongest centre-back pairings in the Premier League and it's clearly a huge boost that they won't have the brilliant Zlatan Ibrahimovic to contend with. Samuel Eto'o returning to the line-up would help, while there is plenty of depth regarding the midfield options should Mourinho need to throw on more attacking players late in the piece. It's no surprise to see Chelsea to win 1-0 as the most popular scoreline at 11/2, but PSG haven't conceded three goals all season and I'm not convinced Chelsea did quite enough in the away leg to make it through, despite a narrow home victory looking likely tonight.