Expect Chelsea response to PSG deficit in Champions League quarters
On eight occasions when Chelsea have been behind in a knockout European tie in the last decade, they have won their second leg twice as often as they have lost.
Six of those times have seen them come back to Stamford Bridge with work to do, and they have been beaten there once. Who was the winning manager we hear you ask? Current Blues boss Jose Mourinho.
‘The Special One’ is odds-on at 5/6 to mastermind a Chelsea victory over French champions PSG on the night, and 3/1 to take them past the Ligue 1 leaders and into the Champions League semi-finals.
First leg scorer Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani have been here before. In Napoli colours in 2012, they came to the Bridge 3-1 up – having both netted in the first leg of a knockout stage tie – and lost in extra time. The Blues went on to lift the European Cup then, and are 22/1 for a repeat performance.
PSG may be 7/2 outsiders for a win on the night, but they are odds-on favourites to progress on aggregate at 1/4. A draw at the Bridge is priced at 13/5.
It is to South American attackers Cavani and Lavezzi that Laurent Blanc will look for goals again here, in the absence of injured top-scorer Zlatan Ibrahmovic. Back the Uruguayan at 11/4 or his Argentine counterpart at 15/8 to net anytime.
Blanc must decide who occupies the wide right berth here, as Ibrahimovic being out means a move infield for Cavani into his favoured position. Brazil’s Lucas Moura may deputise, but another Argentina international, Javier Pastore, gave a timely reminder of his talents with a stunning solo strike in a brief first leg cameo off the bench.
Odds of 8/1 say former Palermo player Pastore will score last again. Mourinho, meanwhile, is short of deep-lying midfield options because Nemanja Matic is cup-tied and Ramires suspended.
David Luiz and Frank Lampard, who scored in Chelsea’s comprehensive win over Stoke City last time out, should fill in here. John Obi Mikel has been forced to the margins in recent weeks, making just one substitute appearance in all competitions since March 1st.
As Egypt winger Mohamed Salah – another scorer against Stoke – is ineligible, all eyes are once again on Eden Hazard, who converted a then-equalising penalty at the Parc des Princes in the first leg. The Blues’ Belgian attacker is 7/4 to net here.
Chelsea could advance on away goals if they win 2-0. Punters can get tempting odds of 8/1 on this. They have kept clean sheets in all four home European games since Basel stunned them on the opening matchday of the group stage.
That scoreline was also precisely the Blues’ last home result in Europe. Winning to nil looks worthwhile too, but the price is shorter at 21/10.
Without Ibrahimovic, PSG are missing the man who has contributed over 40 per cent of their Champions League goals this term. Cavani, admittedly from a berth that is not natural to him, has chipped in with four (a sixth of the 24 netted in Europe’s elite club competition).
The spotlight is on Uruguay’s other danger man to finish the job that his Napoli of two years ago could not. Based on that fantastic record of responding at the Bridge, however, do not count Chelsea out yet, but they will probably have to keep a clean sheet to go through. Odds of 29/20 say they will shut PSG out.