This time last year Chelsea faced Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the same stage of the Champions League and got a great 1-1 draw at the Parc de Princes. The Blues went on to draw 2-2 at home against 10 men and lose the tie on away goals. So how do they beat the Ligue 1 champions this time round?
The first leg takes place this Tuesday at the Parc de Princes. Where Chelsea are in an unfamiliar position this time round in which they are languishing down in 12th position in the Premier League table. As oppose to last year when the Blues were flying high at the top of the table. That day in 2015 Chelsea came away with a flattering 1-1 draw in which PSG missed plenty of chances to take a lead in to the second leg.
Now the French side are 24 points ahead in the table, and have been able to rest seven first team players in their recent 0-0 draw at home to Lille. This puts the Blues in a difficult position against a fresh team and without defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic who is suspended, Kurt Zouma who is out for the rest of the season and potentially without captain John Terry who came off injured against Newcastle on Saturday.
The midfield power
The Blues have their backs against the wall. But with star men Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas looking like their back to top form, they will always have a chance. With the departure of Ramires, and Matic suspended, Hiddink only has a choice of three for the central midfielder spot. John Obi Mikel, Cesc Fabregas and twenty year-old Ruben Loftus-Cheek. It is more then likely the Dutchman will start with Fabregas and Mikel, but if he wanted more strength and power in the midfield he may well go with Loftus-Cheek and Mikel, pushing Fabregas up in behind Costa. Which could work effectively against Thiago Motta and Marco Veratti who both dominated Chelsea over the two legs last season.
This would mean dropping Oscar to the bench, and although the Brazilian scored a fantastic hat trick against MK Dons a few weeks back, his inability to perform in the big games will stand against him. And operating Loftus-Cheek in a more defensive holding role, to use his size and agility to get around the park could work wonders for Chelsea.
Now, without John Terry and Kurt Zouma the Blues will be very light at the back. With only one real back four choice to choose from, of Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill and Baba Rahman who has not had much football since his £20 million move from Augsburg. This could be worrying for the Blues who will hope Terry is passed fit or this could mean 20 year-old Matt Miazga takes a place on the Chelsea bench for the first time since his move from New York Red Bulls. The Blues will need to focused for the likes of Ibrahimovic, Lavezzi and Di Maria coming at them.
Chelsea’s pace on the break is second to none and they will be hoping this will help them as they come up against former team mate David Luiz and one of the best centre backs in world football Thiago Silva. With the likes of Hazard, Willian and Diego Costa all on form the Blues, they will be looking to hit PSG on the break, soaking up their pressure and using the pace and skill of these attackers to exploit their defensive frailties. All Chelsea fans will remember how susceptible David Luiz can be, and the attack will really be targeting him at the Parc de Princes.