Chelsea take on Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, in what will be their biggest game of the season. But how will the English Champions beat their French counterparts?
The head-to-head record between the two teams could hardly be closer. This being the third season in succession both sides have met. With two wins for PSG, two draws and one win for Chelsea. The clash this time round is on a knife-edge with PSG winning the game 2-1 at the Parc de Princes three weeks ago. But the Blues came away with a vital away goal from John Obi Mikel. So where will the clash be won this time round?
Fabregas is the key
Chelsea have plenty of quality in their team. More so then a mid table position in the Premier League would suggest. One player who has really come in to form under interim boss Guus Hiddink, is Cesc Fabregas. After a hugely underwhelming start to the season, the 28 year-old has just 5 assists so far this season.
But the Spaniard scored in last weekends victory over Southampton and has been an influential player in recent weeks. He’s picking the ball up all over the park, sometimes off the centre backs, other times playing off of Costa upfront. He often finishes matches with the most touches by any player. And with a passing success rate of over 85% for the season the Blues will look to find Fabregas in space in order for him to pick out the likes of Willian, Hazard and Costa in scoring positions.
It’s much easier said then done. With PSG’s wealth of talent going forward, Chelsea will need to be aware of players such as Di Maria, Ibrahimovic and Lucas Moura.
But, as proved in recent years, Edison Cavani has been a thorn in the Blues side, stretching as far back as his Napoli days. Having scored three goals and provided two assists in his seven Champions League games against them, including the vital winner three weeks ago at the Parc de Princes, twelve minutes from time. The Uruguayan’s movement in behind the Chelsea defence proved to be the telling moment when he came off the bench. And as it is looking less likely John Terry will be fit for the return leg it will be up to the make shift centre back pairing of Ivanovic and Cahill to keep out the forward.
Win the midfield battle
This is where the game will be won or lost. In last seasons 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge the Blues were overrun in midfield, even against 10-men for ninety minutes of the match.
The likes of Veratti, Matuidi and Thiago Motta, completely out worked and out played, Matic and Fabregas in the centre of Chelsea’s midfield. Veratti was particularly impressive with a game high of seven tackles won before being taken off near the end of normal time. But with the Blues holding the away goal this time round and knowing how clinical the forward players of PSG can be, it is more then likely they will go with John Obi Mikel and Nemanja Matic,who has now served his one match European suspension, in the middle of the park, . Giving cover to the centre backs and allowing freedom to their forward thinking players.
This will allow Chelsea to push Fabregas higher up the field in order to have more influence on the attacking element of the game and not having to worry quite as much on his defensive work.
A difficult night is in store for the Blues. But with Stamford Bridge rocking, if they can rediscover some of their top form and win the midfield battle, the likes of Costa, Hazard and Fabregas can really put a stamp on this game. A 3-1 win for Chelsea.
The game will be live on BT Sport Europe on Wednesday 19th March at 19:45.