Home comforts can see Chelsea into the last eight
There’s a real feeling of deju vu surrounding this week’s Champions League ties.
Real Madrid and Schalke meet again at the Bernabeu on Tuesday night in a repeat of last season’s last 16 match-up and Chelsea now face PSG at Stamford Bridge less than 12 months after they knocked the French side out of the competition at the quarter-final stage in 2014.
Of course, we do tend to get the same old teams making it through to the knockout stages year on year and maybe familiarity feeds contempt but the Blues can’t afford to take Laurent Blanc’s side lightly having failed to properly build on Branislav Ivanovic’s goal at the Parc des Princes.
One thing in Chelsea’s favour, however, is their terrific record at Stamford Bridge. The Premier League leaders have had a week off since winning at West Ham last Wednesday and Jose Mourinho is hoping that the extra time will mean Nemanja Matic will be fit to face the Frenchmen.
The Serbian powerhouse injured himself celebrating his side’s Capital One Cup Final victory over Spurs, even though he didn’t actually play in the match. He was also suspended at West Ham and Mourinho will want him fit to bolster his midfield.
PSG have yet to score a goal in two previous visits to Stamford Bridge but will have to find the net if they are to progress with Chelsea already boasting an away goal.
They certainly have the firepower to cause problems for their hosts but you just never know what you’re going to get from the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edson Cavani and David Luiz. Blaise Matuidi looked a real star in the first leg, however, and the Chelsea defenders will have to be wary of his runs from midfield.
Kurt Zouma has generally been preferred to Gary Cahill in Chelsea’s home matches over the last couple of months so it will be interesting to see if Mourinho sticks to that formula in such a big game. But otherwise, it will be a familiar-looking Chelsea line-up that tries to cement its place in the quarter-finals.
The Londoners don’t lose many at home when the chips are down and can win on the night at 19/20. The draw on the handicap is 11/4 with PSG receiving a goal start.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm on Wednesday, March 11 at Stamford Bridge.