Jose Mourinho says there will inevitably be a difference in the way we approach tomorrow’s decisive Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain, compared to when we met the French side last season.
On that occasion, we were tasked with overturning a 3-1 first-leg deficit, and while we ultimately progressed on away goals courtesy of a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge, this time around the tie is far more delicately poised following the 1-1 draw at the Parc des Princes.
‘When you are losing 3-1 you are at the limit of risk,’ said the Portuguese. ‘You know if you concede one you are in trouble, you know you have to score at least two. Tomorrow is different, there is complete balance but we are going to try to win.
‘Experience helps us to sleep well tonight, just that. You feel comfortable to play if you’ve done it many times. It’s one more game, in spite of the fact it’s a knockout game, so we are calm. We are speaking about teams with very good players who are comfortable at this level, so it’s more about them.’
The boss confirmed Nemanja Matic will return to the side tomorrow and, while the Blues have won both games in which the Serbian has been missing, he remains as important as ever to the balance and structure of the team.
‘I told him we won two very important matches without him, the Capital One Cup final and against West Ham, so maybe he’s not so important,’ Mourinho said jokingly.
‘I told him that and he was laughing but that’s the reality. It’s also the reality that he’s very important for us, we are happy he’s back. He’s fit to play, no problem with his injury. He’s had no football for a couple of weeks, no training either, but he’s ready to play and he will play tomorrow in his normal position.’
The first leg in the French capital saw Eden Hazard on the receiving end of some rough treatment by the home team, and Mourinho said he didn’t expect that type of approach from such a talented squad.
‘I was surprised in that game because a team with fantastic players was the team with a record of fouls, they were the team making foul after foul, stopping Hazard with fouls and attacking the man on the ball with very aggressive actions,’ he explained.
‘Even a player like Zlatan [Ibrahimovic], who is a typical attacking player, was coming from behind and stopping Hazard on the counter. I thought an English team would never be surprised with aggressiveness because we have it in our country.
‘During this season we played against teams from the Championship and League One in the cups, but the most aggressive side we faced was PSG. It was a real surprise because with players of such quality I was expecting more football and less aggressiveness.’
Having managed PSG’s talisman Ibrahimovic during his time in charge at Inter, Mourinho is well aware of the threat posed by the Swede, but he preferred to focus on his own strikers and the qualities they bring.
‘I don’t have a plan because it’s very difficult to play against a player like him, such a good player,’ he said. ‘We don’t focus on one player. We will focus, as we always do, on their team, but especially on ourselves.
‘Last season we had [Samuel] Eto’o, [Demba] Ba and [Fernando] Torres, they did their work for us, we didn’t win titles but they helped us go far in competitions. This season, Diego Costa, [Loic] Remy and [Didier] Drogba helped us win the Capital One Cup and to be where we are in the Champions League and Premier League, so they are doing their job.
‘For the style of play we want our team to have, these three are very adaptable. We have a good group of strikers and we are very happy with that.’
The season, up until this point, has gone extremely well, with the Blues having already lifted a trophy, enjoying a five-point advantage at the top of the table and with a real opportunity to progress to the last eight of the Champions League.
The test awaiting us tomorrow night is undoubtedly a tough one, and Mourinho believes the home crowd, as they have done so many times previously on the big occasions, can play an integral role in ensuring our name is in the hat for the quarter-final draw a week on Friday.
‘In the Champions League, and knockout matches, you need a bit of luck, in details and specific moments,’ explained the Chelsea manager. ‘To score a goal in the last minute is a lucky detail that last season we had. If somebody tomorrow has to produce a bit of magic it’s the crowd. We played a semi-final against Liverpool a few weeks ago and it was fantastic, they were like an extra man and hopefully it will be the same.
‘The game tomorrow is important because if you lose the competition is finished. It’s as important as the game against Bradford. Against Bradford we lost and the FA Cup was finished for us. It’s different than the Premier League when you have 38 matches to play. We know and they know that tomorrow a very good team will be out of the Champions League.’