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Five reasons to believe PSG can beat Chelsea

The Local/AFP · 11 Mar 2015, 14:29

Published: 11 Mar 2015 14:29 GMT+01:00

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Eleven months on, but with the same coach and broadly the same team, Paris Saint-Germain return to Chelsea on Wednesday seeking to prove their worth as a Champions League force.

In last season's quarter-finals, PSG came to Stamford Bridge leading 3-1 from the first leg and with a huge 13-point advantage in Ligue 1, only to crash out after Demba Ba's 87th-minute strike took Chelsea through on away goals.

This season, a round earlier, the tie is more delicately balanced at 1-1, but it is Chelsea, the Premier League leaders who are still favourites to come out on top.

But if we forget about favourite's tag for a moment there are plenty of reasons why PSG can go into Wednesday’s second leg confident of pulling off an upset.

Here are five:

1.    Revenge

In interviews with the press, players will almost always trawl out the line that “It’s not about revenge…” or “Revenge is not a motivation, we are professionals… blah blah.” But let’s face it, the desire for payback is a huge motivator. Granted it’s not the key factor, but the fact PSG’s team is almost the same as the one that faced Chelsea last year means the pain of that late goal will be burned into their memory. Make no mistake about it, they will be desperate to get one over Jose Mourinho’s men. That desire for retribution might just help focus their minds and help ease any pre-match nerves.

2.    Form

After coming in for criticism earlier in the season for the slugging form in the league, Laurent Blanc’s men have hit their stride at just the right time. Even before last weekend’s 4-1 demolition of Lens, PSG were showing signs they are clicking just as they enter the business end of the season. Laurent Blanc's side have now gone 14 matches without defeat in all competitions and despite their failure to recapture last season's heights, they remain in contention for an unprecedented four-trophy haul.

3.    They need to score

PSG took a 3-1 lead to Stamford Bridge for last year’s quarter-final second leg and no doubt the fans, the players, the coach and the Qatari owner wish they had the same advantage this time round. But perhaps they do have an advantage of sorts. Last year they knew they could lose by one goal to nil and still go through. It resulted in a fairly anaemic performance as players showed little attacking ambition. Basically they were caught between stick and twist. But footballers like things to be simple. PSG know they have to score tonight, which is a much easier way to approach a game. "We know what we have to do,” said Laurent Blanc. "And Chelsea too, although they also have to ask themselves whether to attack or defend. But we know we have to score at least one goal to qualify."

And with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the team they are highly capable of doing just that, which would blow the tie wide open. Which brings us to the next reason to stake a bet on the French champions.

4.    What Zlatan wants, Zlatan normally gets

Perhaps the biggest difference from last year is that PSG’s star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic will play a role. He missed out through injury last year, but this time he’s bang in form, with the giant Swede having scored his third goal in four games and provided a delightful assist for Javier Pastore in Saturday's 4-1 defeat of Lens. The pony-tailed Swede is often accused of disappearing in the big games, especially when he’s come up against English clubs in the competition. But once again, Zlatan being Zlatan you know he’ll have his moment. Zlatan of course has never won a Champions League title and he dearly wants to before he hangs up those big boots. And once again, Zlatan normally gets what he wants. This might be his last chance for glory.

(Stats and Infographic supplied by Opta-powered fantasy football game www.oulala.com)

Story continues below…

5.    Chelsea are not invincible

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea team have looked invincible at times this season, but they have also shown themselves to be vulnerable. Even lowly Bradford scored four against them at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup, albeit with a weakened team. Spurs put 5 past them recently and Premier Strugglers Burnley came away from Chelsea with a 1-1 draw. Playmaker Cesc Fabregas is not the player he was at the start of the season when he was setting up goals for fun and striker Diego Costa has not quite found his rhythm since returning from a ban.

Big-spending PSG are desperate to join European football’s elite, but they need a big scalp in the Champions League to even suggest they are ready to be considered as a football powerhouse.

Tonight might just be the night.

The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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