Chelsea face Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of a Champions League match on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge. The aggregate score is 1-1 after a draw on Feb. 17 in Paris and the game will decide which team advances to the final eight of the competition.
Chelsea enter the match looking to continue a run toward a perhaps historic year. Jose Mourinho’s side won the Capital One Cup earlier this month and sit five points clear of Manchester City atop the Premier League table. The manager was confident his players are prepared for the moment.
“Our experience] helps us to sleep well tonight,” Mourninho told reporters Tuesday. “You feel comfortable to play if it's something you do a lot of times. It's one more game, in spite of being a knockout game and the second leg, so you're calm. But during the game the players play.”
PSG will look overcome a deficit against a tough Chelsea defense in London. The Ligue 1 side need to score at least one goal, since away goals are used to break ties. It’s a tall task, but not one manager Laurent Blanc finds too overwhelming.
“We're halfway through a two-legged tie,” he told reporters. “Chelsea have a slight advantage with the away goal, so our aim is to do what Chelsea did in Paris and get through.
"We'll prepare well. We know what we will be going to do.”
PSG are fighting to take Ligue 1 as well as advance in the Champions League and Blanc is certainly under scrutiny since he commands such a recognizable and wealthy club. The side will have to take on a well-rested Chelsea side near full strength, all the while essentially coming from behind. Goals will be at a premium.
“As things stand, once this match starts, we're going out because Chelsea have the away goal,” Blanc said to reporters. “We have to come out and look to qualify.”
Below is a look at two key players, one for each side, who might help determine which side advances to the quarterfinals and which side is bounced from the competition.
Chelsea’s Matić should make his return Wednesday from a two-match ban for shoving Burnley’s Ashley Barnes after Barnes seemed to purposefully stomp on the Serbian midfielder in a league match on Feb. 21. Matić is a steady defensive midfielder who does a stellar job organizing the Blues’ midfield. He’s also a commanding presence in the center of the park, with defensive sharp instincts. In a match where Chelsea come in ostensibly ahead, Matić’s talents will be a welcome presence that should help the Blues keep possession of the ball and slow PSG’s attack.
PSG needs at least one goal on Wednesday, and Ibrahimović is one of the world’s best strikers. He’s also on a bit of a hot streak, having scored three times in his last five appearances across all competitions. Ibrahimović has also assisted in his last two matches. If PSG want to advance to the final eight they might look to their charismatic Swedish forward for a spark.
G: Thibaut Courtois
D: Branislav Ivanović, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta
M: Ramires, Nemanja Matić, Willian, Cesc Fàbregas, Eden Hazard
F: Diego Costa
• Out: Obi Mikel (knee)
G: Salvatore Sirigu
D: Maxwell, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Gregory Van der Wiel
M: David Luiz, Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti, Blaise Matuidi
F: Edison Cavani, Zlatan Ibrahimović
• Out: Serge Aurier (thigh), Lucas (groin)