Marco Verratti yellow cards, Zlatan Ibrahimovic transfer rumors, and Chelsea F.C. in the UEFA Champions League. When it comes to Paris Saint-Germain, there are certain things that will always be true and this season is no different.
For the third year in a row, PSG will face the London club in Europe’s elite competition, with the first game being at the Parc des Princes on February 16 and the return leg at Stamford Bridge on March 9.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) December 14, 2015
Heading into Monday, Paris could have been drawn against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, VfL Wolfsburg, and Zenit St Petersburg. Many supporters preferred Wolfsburg or Zenit but I am on record as saying Chelsea would be the easiest route to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
I’m fully aware of Chelsea’s history in the competition and that the previous meetings between the two were settled via the away goal rule, but this year is different.
PSG have added quality to their squad while Chelsea have gotten older and slower. This summer, Laurent Blanc brought in Angel Di Maria, a skillful attacking player with the ability to unlock any defense with his passing. When Chelsea park the bus, as they’re famous for doing at the Parc, Di Maria will be called upon to break down the defense and cause problems for a defense that has given up 26 goals in 16 games in the Premier League.
Not only is the Chelsea defense leaking goals to teams like Bournemouth and Southampton, but José Mourinho appears to have lost the dressing room. After losing on Monday to Premier League leaders Leicester City F.C., Mourinho blamed his players for betraying his work and even called out Eden Hazard for leaving the pitch after a tackle in the 31st minute. If the Portuguese manager is still in charge for the first leg, I expect the dysfunction to continue and an in-form PSG should cruise to a comfortable win.
The only concern I have heading into the first game is Kevin Trapp in goal. As mentioned previously, the German keeper has committed a string of errors that cost PSG points in Ligue 1 and doomed them to second place in their Champions League group. The positive is we have plenty of games between now and February 16. Hopefully, Trapp can work out whatever is causing the mistakes and we’ll have a young, confident keeper heading into the first leg.
As always, anything can happen in the Champions League and you do need a bit of luck once the knockout stage begins. PSG avoided Barcelona and Bayern Munich this round and drew a team currently in 16th place in their domestic league. If this sort of luck continues, this could be the year Paris finally lift the trophy they covet the most.