When the draw for the Champions League Round of 16 was made, the first fixture was a familiar match up: PSG vs Chelsea. Last season, the Blues managed to sneak past the Parisians in the Quarter Finals thanks to an 87th minute Demba Ba strike that set up a 2-0 home victory and qualification on away goals rule after a 3-1 loss at the Parc-des-princes. This time around, things are pretty different.
For one, there’s the return of prodigal son, David Luiz! The eccentric Brazilian defender was sold by Chelsea to PSG in the summer for £50 million and looks set to make an emotional return to the Bridge. Adored by all at Chelsea, he has fit in comfortably in the Ligue 1 champions back-four. Still, his performances remain inconsistent and you just don’t know what to expect from him against his former club.
Chelsea’s run to the semi-final last season was largely the result of the defensive solidity Jose Mourinho instilled in the team. This season, however, the Blues offer more of an attacking threat. Diego Costa has been impressive and Cesc Fabregas, a revelation. With Eden Hazard playing some fantastic football and a seemingly re-energised Oscar, it remains to be seen how the PSG defence will be able to deal with the attacking prowess Chelsea now possess.
Not that PSG are short on attacking talent themselves with the daunting figure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to call upon. Ibrahimovic has been plagued with injuries and has looked a shadow of his former self this season. The responsibility of leading the charge falls on Edison Cavani- someone who has improved by leaps and bounds this season after struggling to adapt for much of the last.
Both teams will slug it out with the added pressure of playing in multiple competitions and fighting to maintain domestic supremacy- Chelsea are 3 points clear at the summit of the Premier League and PSG are a point behind Marseilles in Ligue 1.
With Mourinho’s wish of a draw against the French champions playing true, Chelsea have drawn perhaps one of the toughest possible opponents they could have and the result is a mouth-watering first clash in the Champions League round of 16. Both teams are high on confidence and this should be an exciting match-up.
Tuesday 17th Feb (Parc des Princes) and 11th March (Stamford Bridge). Mark your calendars!