A mini-series has now developed in the Champions League between European giants PSG and Chelsea, with this year’s last 16 draw pairing the duo for a third successive year in Europe’s elite competition.
In the 2014 quarter-finals, Chelsea came back from being 3-1 down after a horror ending in the Parc des Princes to win the home tie 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, thanks to a last-minute goal from Demba Ba, putting the Blues through on away goals and sending players, fans and Jose Mourinho into delirium.
That away goal via a penalty in Paris from Eden Hazard proved crucial despite the difficult scoreline.
Last year’s last 16 tie would see revenge for the Parisians following a 1-1 draw away from home. After a controversial sending off of instrumental Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the first half, Chelsea were 2-1 up at Stamford Bridge deep into extra-time, but PSG captain Thiago Silva rose highest from a corner to put his side through on away goals.
With this year’s draw setting up a decider in this unofficial best-of-three series, another close tie in February isn’t looking likely. Chelsea, who lie in the bottom third of the Premier League have shown no signs that they can test the greats of Europe this year and will be a large price to defeat France’s finest. PSG have pretty much wrapped up Ligue 1 before Christmas with a whopping 17-point advantage and have only dropped six points in their 18 games.
The one saving grace for the west Londoners is that the first leg of this contest isn’t until February. They have plenty of time and matches to regain the form they showed when they were scintillating at the start of last season but if that is their only piece of faith to grip onto, it won’t be looking good for them.
With Ibrahimovic injured for the 2014 tie and sent off in the second leg of last year’s encounter, he will have a point to prove against Chelsea as he ages. David Luiz celebrated his normal time equaliser against his former side last year and will look to show Mourinho what he is missing once more in a few months’ time.
Hazard has been linked with PSG for the past couple of years but is yet to impress anyone this season. Could this be the game which shows the world that form is temporary and class is permanent?
All eyes will be on this tie as we can expect many sub-plots in a feisty encounter between two members of Europe’s richest. So much rides on these pair of fixtures, just like it has in the past.
The first leg is set to take place in Paris on the 16th of February, with the away tie back at Stamford Bridge on the 9th of March.
Brein McGinn, Pundit Arena
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