For Chelsea and PSG, this tale of two cities comes in three parts. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton open up the latest chapter…
Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain cross swords in Europe’s elite competition for the third successive season. With Manchester City arriving on Sunday for our third FA Cup encounter in four seasons, it truly is deja-vu all over again.
This potentially decisive week for the Blues, undefeated in 12 matches, begins with a trip across the Channel in the Champions League. Guus Hiddink was unbeaten in this competition during his last spell at Stamford Bridge, missing out in the semi-finals to Barcelona only through away goals and the refereeing of Tom Henning Ovrebo.
The Blues have been beaten only once in the past eight games over land and sea in the Champions League, the 4-0 at Maccabi Tel-Aviv being the most recent success. Chelsea’s sole victory in seven matches on French soil was against PSG, in this stadium, in 2004, while the Parisiens have won just one of our six Champions League encounters, drawing three and losing two.
The squad submitted to UEFA earlier this month by new boss Hiddink showed one or two changes from that which decisively beat Porto 2-0 on 9 December to top Group G.
Out went the still-injured striker Falcao and midfielder Ramires, now playing in China, and in came new signings Matt Miazga, a US international defender, and the forward Pato. Like injured John Terry, the Brazilian was not in the party travelling to Paris yesterday but 18-year-old Under-21s centre-back Jake Clarke-Salter was. Nemanja Matic is suspended.
PSG’s draw with Eden Hazard’s former side Lille on Saturday ended their run of 16 successive wins. In all competitions they have won 33 of 39 first-team matches this season. Their only defeat was against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in November.
Chelsea’s five-star display at the weekend, in contrast, finally evoked the opening months of the 2014/15 season with its pace, swagger and skill, although admittedly against a side so lax their travelling support could not even muster the enthusiasm to go shirtless in the freezing cold. Still, the combinations between Pedro, Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Willian, quarterbacked by Cesc Fabregas, will have given Paris coach Laurent Blanc more food for thought.
Blanc, whose side are already almost out of sight in the Ligue 1 title race, omitted several players from the starting line-up against Lille, including Thiago Motta, Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Yet it could be PSG becoming victims of their own success on so many fronts. Ibrahimovic (pictured below) has remarked that three games a week, every week, are taking their toll.
Blanc complained: ‘We really should have been allowed seven days to prepare for a match like [Chelsea in the Champions League]. We’ll be playing a match on Wednesday, then one on Saturday at 5pm before taking on Chelsea on the Tuesday. Two and a half days to prepare is not enough.’
Skipper Silva, though, bemoaned the lack of mind-sharpening competition. ‘It is difficult,’ he said recently. ‘When you are accustomed to winning, when you are used to winning, then afterwards you tend not to have the same level of concentration.’
If PSG’s procession towards a fourth successive league title really is failing to harden them for bigger battles, football usually finds a way of serving up unexpected problems.
Blanc’s media conference yesterday was dominated by the fallout from Serge Aurier’s ‘pathetic’ criticism of his manager and teammates, caught on video and published on social media.
The head coach confirmed his first choice right-back, now suspended indefinitely, will ‘suffer the consequences’ for his misdemeanour. An irony is that his likely replacement, Gregory van der Wiel, was reportedly dropped for a social media indiscretion last September.
The benefit of Chelsea topping the group (for the 10th time in the last 13 campaigns) is that the denouement, in three weeks’ time on Wednesday 9 March, will be reached at Stamford Bridge.
The staggered nature of the Round of 16 means our opponents next weekend in the FA Cup, Manchester City, will have had a free midweek to prepare, but then must travel to Kiev the day after for a Wednesday night game.
Chelsea supporters attending the Parc des Princes will be under scrutiny this evening, and not simply because away supporters have been a rarity there this season.
The away ban was introduced in response to the appalling terrorist attacks across Paris last year. Solidarity with the French people was publicly demonstrated at Stamford Bridge when the people who feed the usual crowd-surfing flag in the Matthew Harding Stand produced instead a huge tricolour. That was vastly more representative of Chelsea supporters than the few bigots involved in the Paris Metro incident a year ago.
WE HAVE HISTORY
In the previous two campaigns, when we have been drawn against PSG in the knockout stages of the Champions League, the winners progressed on away goals.
Our past meetings were all in the Champions League; in the group stage in 2004/05, the quarter-final in 2013/14 and the round of 16 last season.
The Blues’ first visit to the Parc des Princes in September 2004 was a wholly successful one. The match meant returns to France for Petr Cech, late of Rennes, former Ligue 1 midfielder Claude Makelele, William Gallas, once of Marseille, and Didier Drogba, a hero at the same rival club.
Naturally much of the home crowd’s ire was directed towards Drogba, but their unpredictable goalkeeper Lionel Letizi was the real villain of the night, coming for and missing a Frank Lampard corner ball that John Terry was able to head into the net just before the half-hour mark.
Up to then both sides had played cagily, and the Blues had suffered an early blow when Eidur Gudjohnsen was forced off injured in the 10th minute. After Terry’s opener, though, the visitors began to play expansively, with midfielder Joe Cole often involved.
It was Mateja Kezman, Gudjohnsen’s replacement, who set up the Blues’ second, firing in a shot that proved too hot for Letizi to handle. The ball fell for Drogba to sweep into the net with relish. His celebration was all about facing down the stadium’s boo boys and he left the field at half-time seconds later to be pelted with the opposite of bonhomie.
With Chelsea set up to defend and counter, the second half made for comfortable viewing. Cole went close on two occasions and Lampard was just wide with a free-kick.
Elber and Pauleta had Paris Saint-Germain’s best attempts, but with 15 minutes remaining Drogba, the bane of the Parisians, beautifully slotted in a direct free kicks to make the final score 3-0.
You may enjoy highlights of the game here.
Previous meetings (all Champions League)
14 Sep 2004 group stage
PSG…….…………..0 Chelsea……………. 3
Drogba 45+1, 76
24 Nov 2004 group stage
Chelsea………….0 PSG…….……………. 0
2 Apr 2014 quarter-final first leg
PSG…….…………..3 Chelsea……………. 1
Lavezzi 4 Hazard 27 pen
David Luiz og 61
8 Apr 2014 quarter-final second leg
Chelsea………….2 PSG…….……………. 0
Chelsea won on away goals
17 Feb 2015 round of 16 first leg
PSG…….…………..1 Chelsea……………. 1
Cavani 54 Ivanovic 36
11 Mar 2015 round of 16 second leg
Chelsea………….2 PSG…….……………. 2
Cahill 81 David Luiz 86
Hazard 96 pen Thiago Silva 114
PSG won on away goals after extra time
Chelsea’s biggest away win in the Champions League
20/10/1999 Galatasaray 0-5 Chelsea First group stage
25/11/2014 Schalke 0-5 Chelsea Group stage
PSG’s biggest home win in the Champions League
24/10/2000 PSG 7-2 Rosenborg First group stage
Nemanja Matic’s suspension forces a change from the norm on Guus Hiddink, with John Mikel Obi and Cesc Fabregas or Oscar likely to form the partnership in central midfield.
John Terry is a non-traveller and Kurt Zouma is obviously ruled out, so Cesar Azpilicueta could remain on the right flank with the more offensive-minded Baba Rahman likely to continue on the left.
Paris Saint-Germain will face a less resolute, possibly more attack-minded Chelsea than has sometimes been the case at the Parc des Princes, especially if the Londoners take the initiative as they have in recent away performances. Away goals have been decisive in the last two ties between the teams.
The changes enforced during the Blues’ dismantling of Newcastle United also brought good balance in wide areas, and Azpilicueta’s cross for Bertrand Traore’s maiden Premier League strike was the Spaniard’s first assist of the season.
Twenty-year-old Burkina Faso international Traore’s goal came after just 30 minutes of top-flight football, and he is on a run of two in two games in all competitions. Pedro’s first league brace for over two years doubled his league tally and he might have had a hat-trick.
The Blues’ ability to find the likes of Pedro, Willian and Eden Hazard behind the opposition rearguard could be effective against a Paris Saint-Germain missing their regular right-back and, possibly, the aggressive wide midfielder Marco Verratti (pictured below). Helpfully, Saturday was Hazard’s first full game since the end of December.
The Ligue 1 leaders’ 16-match winning streak ground to a halt on Saturday after a lacklustre goalless draw with Lille, their first blank at the Parc des Princes since the Champions League visit of Real Madrid in October. The 13th-placed side worked hard for their clean sheet but also had the profligacy of Paris striker Edinson Cavani to thank for it.
It was the usual 4-3-3 system for that game but the personnel was much-changed, with one eye on tonight’s encounter. The Parisiens’ central midfield trio was not the same stripped of Verratti and Thiago Motta, and while Blaise Matuidi has generally impressed in our meetings he has been playing through pain. Former Spur Benjamin Stambouli has deputised for Thiago Motta in the holding role.
We know very well the brilliance and occasional lapses of David Luiz, but Saturday showed again that Marquinho might become a decent stand-in for skipper Thiago Motta. Serge Aurier’s absence at right-back is more of a headache for Blanc.
A big addition to PSG’s squad since last we met is dynamic wide midfielder Angel Di María, formerly of Manchester United. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, sent off at the Bridge last season, is another who requires no introduction.
No Chelsea supporter will regret that Ezequiel Lavezzi, responsible for three goals and several assists in his six matches against the Blues, seems bound imminently for China.
Laurent Blanc has said he wants his team to impose themselves on Chelsea rather than wait for things to happen, but that may suit the Londoners’ ability on the counter-attack.
Nemanja Matic is suspended, with John Mikel Obi almost certain to resume in centre midfield. John Terry did not travel following the minor injury sustained in Saturday’s 5-1 victory. Oscar has returned to fitness.
Tonight would have been Terry’s 700th appearance for the Blues. The loss of both his first-choice central defenders in one week should mean Guus Hiddink continues with the back for that finished the Newcastle game, youngsters such as Matt Miazga and Jake Clarke-Salter being added to the bench.
January signing Pato is completing his short preseason-style training regime but did not travel to the France capital.
Serge Aurier’s club suspension means Laurent Blanc will turn either to fellow right-back Gregory van der Wiel or Marquinhos, who has been playing in the centre of defence.
Blanc reported neither Marco Verratti nor fellow midfielder Javier Pastore will be fit enough to play a full game this evening. They may dovetail each other or Adrien Rabiot could stand in. Should Verratti be booked he will miss the second leg at the Bridge.
Blanc mysteriously mentioned another casualty he preferred not to name. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Maxwell all sat out Saturday’s draw with Lyon, while influential midfielder Blaise Matuidi, Lucas Moura and former Blue David Luiz have all been nursing injuries recently.
CHELSEA IN NUMBERS
Chelsea won our Champions League group for the 10th time in the last 13 campaigns and finished runners-up in two of the remaining three.
The Blues are seeking to reach a fourth Champions League quarter-final in six years, and a seventh in the last 10 campaigns.
Four of Chelsea’s last five away games in the Champions League knockout stages have been drawn. We lost the other.
The Blues are unbeaten in 12 matches since the defeat at Leicester on 14 December.
Chelsea’s last ten years in Europe
2005/06 Champions League – round of 16
2006/07 Champions League – semi-final
2007/08 Champions League – runners-up
2008/09 Champions League – semi-final
2009/10 Champions League – round of 16
2010/11 Champions League – quarter-final
2011/12 Champions League – winners
2012/13 Europa League – winners (having transferred from the Champions League group stage)
2013/14 Champions League – semi-final
2014/15 Champions League – round of 16
CHELSEA'S NEXT SIX GAMES
Champions League scorers
Willian 5, Oscar 2 (1 pen), own goals 2, Cahill 1, Diego Costa 1, Fabregas 1, Zouma 1
Champions League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 1
An away defeat: 2
CHELSEA'S NEXT THREE GAMES
PSG IN NUMBERS
5 French league titles, last in 2015
9 French Cups, last in 2015
5 French League Cups, last in 2015
5 French Super Cups, last in 2015
1 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1996
Paris Saint-Germain’s best season in the Champions League was in 1994/95 when they reached the semi-final. They lost 3-0 on aggregate to eventual runners-up AC Milan.
Ligue 1 - winners
Coupe de France - winners
Coupe de la Ligue - winners
Trophee des Champions - winners
Champions League - quarter-finals
Laurent Blanc’s side are aiming for a fourth successive Champions League quarter-final. They lost to Barcelona in 2013 and last season.
The 1-3 home defeat by Barcelona in last season’s quarter-final first leg was PSG’s only home defeat in 37 games in European competition (24 draws, 12 draws) since Hapoel Tel Aviv beat them in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup group stage.
Parc des Princes has a capacity of 48,691 but slightly less on European nights. Paris Saint-Germain’s crowds in the group stage were 46,612 (Malmo), 46,858 (Real Madrid) and 44,408 (Shakhtar).
The Parisiens are on a 35-game unbeaten record in Ligue 1, winning 31 of them.
They have yet to concede a goal at home in the Champions League this term.
Laurent Blanc has a 73 per cent win record for PSG.
Last ten league seasons
PSG won Ligue 1 last season for the third successive season, with victories in 24 of their 38 matches and 83 points, eight clear of runners-up Lyon. This season they stand 24 points clear at the top after 26 games.
Paris have played 11 matches against English sides with two wins against Liverpool in 1997 and Chelsea in 2014.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is PSG’s top scorer this season with 27 in 32 appearances in all competitions.
Ten-year European record
2005/06 Did not qualify
2006/07 UEFA Cup round of 16
2007/08 Did not qualify
2008/09 UEFA Cup quarter-finals
2009/10 Did not qualify
2010/11 Europa League round of 16
2011/12 Europa League group stage
2012/13 Champions League quarter-finals
2013/14 Champions League quarter-finals
2014/15 Champions League quarter-finals
Champions League scorers
Di Maria 3, Ibrahimovic 2, Lucas Moura 2, Aurier 1, Cavani 1, David Luiz 1, Rabiot 1, own goal 1.
Champions League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 1
An away defeat: 2
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Referee Carlos Velasco Carballo, his assistant referees and additional assistant referees are from Spain. Chelsea have won three of the five games he has officiated, drawing and losing one.
Nemanja Matic is suspended for one match.
Champions League bookings list
Players receive a one-match suspension for collecting three and five yellow cards
Chelsea Matic 3, Azpilicueta 1, Cahill 1, Diego Costa 1, Fàbregas 1, Ivanovic 1, Loftus-Cheek 1, Zouma 1.
PSG David Luiz 3 (already served a suspension), Aurier 2, Verratti 2, Ibrahimovic 1, Lavezzi 1, Matuidi 1, Thiago Silva 1.