Zlatan stands in Chelsea's way

Tom McDermott looks ahead to tonight's Champions League quarter-final between PSG and Chelsea.

Last Updated: 02/04/14 at 20:24 Post Comment

Jose Mourinho: Looking for another trophy

Jose Mourinho: Looking for another trophy

Teams

It's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and not Jose Mourinho who has dominated all the pre-match talk.

Ibrahimovic played under Mourinho at Inter Milan and famously declared in his autobiography that he would be "basically willing to die" for the Portuguese manager.

The controversial but exceptionally talented Swede has already scored 40 goals this season and Mourinho knows that he will have to be tamed if the London club are to progress.

Chelsea's travelling fans will be desperate for a response from their side following Saturday's 1-0 defeat in the Premier League to Crystal Palace.

Over in Paris, though, Laurent Blanc is gathering together his own set of superstar players and doing a pretty sound job thus far.

The Parisians are on a 13-match unbeaten run and sit 13 points clear of nearest challengers Monaco in Ligue 1.

They have also not lost at home in their last nine Champions League games, while Chelsea have won just one of their last six games away from Stamford Bridge.

Blanc was handed the luxury of playing last Friday evening and was able to rest the likes of Alex, Marco Verratti, and Blaise Matuidi.

Chelsea will hope that Samuel Eto'o is back after another poor showing from Fernando Torres at the weekend. The concern for Chelsea fans is that their team may struggle for goals if the Cameroonian isn't declared fit.

Defensively, John Terry and Gary Cahill will have the task of stopping PSG's formidable forward line of Ibrahimovic and record signing Edinson Cavani .

The home side will confident of taking at least a one-goal lead to West London with them next week.

Players to watch

Eden Hazard - The Belgian used to play in Ligue 1 with Lille but has improved since his move to Chelsea in 2012. Hazard has put in some spectacular performances this campaign already but if he is ever to be placed in the same bracket as Ibrahimovic, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo then he will have to perform at similar level against Europe's premier clubs. Does he have a big performance in him this evening?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic - What more can be said about the brilliant forward? Gary Cahill will remember his last meeting with the striker after he looped a world-class finish into the net from outside the area during Sweden's 4-2 demolition of England two years ago. WIll the former Bolton defender have the answer tonight?

Petr Cech - Thibaut Courtois' form at Atletico Madrid means that Chelsea have a huge decision to make about the goalkeeping position this summer. Cech has been a superb servant for over a decade but Courtois won't wait for the number one jersey forever which is why so much focus will be on Cech between now and May. A few good performances in the Champions League from Cech could persuade Mourinho to stick with his experience but Courtois' form is hard to ignore and Cech will have to be at his best if he is to keep hold of the gloves next season.

Marco Verratti - During his time as manager of PSG, Carlo Ancelotti described the Italian midfielder a someone who "sees the game before the others, like Andrea Pirlo". Capable of changing the pace of the game at will, you would think that one of Chelsea's midfielders will be near by whenever he's on the ball. He might not grab the headlines in the same way that Ibrahimovic but is undoubtedly just as important.

Outcome

Chelsea's players look more comfortable playing in Europe than in the Premier League. Mourinho, as ever, will be well prepared and happy to be regarded as the underdog. However, don't expect that to be the case and don't be surprised if his side put in a 'Manchester City' type performance and win 1-0.

It's hard to see Blanc's men not scoring as well so I'll go for a 1-1 draw. A result that should please both managers.


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