Chelsea Against PSG Is the Best of an Incredibly Strong Champions League Draw

Nick MillerFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2014

Chelsea's manager Jose Mourinho speaks to the media during a press conference at Stamford Bridge in London, Monday, March 17, 2014. Galatasaray will play Chelsea on Tuesday in their Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match at Stamford Bridge. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Sang Tan/Associated Press

In truth, with the teams involved in the quarter-finals of the Champions League it was virtually impossible to draw a bad fixture out. This is arguably the best last eight that the competition has ever seenwhen Manchester United, despite their current struggles, are comfortably the worst team left in the tournament, you know it's pretty strong.

All four games have their selling points. While intra-country ties are not ideal for an international competition, Barcelona v Atletico Madrid is a meeting of an established power of Spanish football and the up-and-coming one, Real MadridBorussia Dortmund will be a well-matched clash if the German side's injury crisis clears up by the time of the game, while Bayern Munich v Manchester United will be an occasion simply because it is likely to be David Moyes' side's last couple of games in the Champions League for a while.

Indeed, that is arguably the ideal draw for Unitedthe chances are that they were going to be eliminated by any of the sides still left in the competition, so while it might get ugly for them in Munich, they will at least be able to say they were beaten by the best team in the world. And if they do pull off an upset, what a story it will be, even if it is a strange sensation to talk of United in terms of a great underdog story.

However, the best tie of the round looks to be Chelsea v Paris St Germain. This is old-new money against new-new money, with Roman Abramovich's fortune looking almost puny next to the billions being pumped into PSG by Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Qatar.

Thibault Camus/Associated Press

It is arguably the best-matched tie of the round, with both sides boasting brilliant players from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eden Hazard, Edinson Cavani and Oscar, Thiago Silva and John Terry; perhaps more importantly, both sides have their vulnerabilities.

PSG of course play in a league where their only serious competitors Monaco are still finding their feet after such a large cash injection and occasionally have been unconvincing in the league, while Chelsea have an obvious problem up front and a slightly troubling proclivity to unexpected adverse results, such as the recent defeat to Aston Villa.

Mourinho is still confident, though, as he always is. He said, as reported by Dominic Fifield in the Guardian after Chelsea beat Galatasaray to qualify for the quarter-final stage:

We are a Champions League club and now we are among the best eight, the best clubs in the world, and we are there. The players deserve to be there.

All the big teams are there. All the big candidates to win the competition are there. And we would welcome any one of them. It would be very good for our evolution as a team and very important for us to play one of the best. We wait for the draw. It doesn't matter who. They are all welcome.

This is a tie full of characters who relish a big game, from Zlatan to Jose, and there are few bigger occasions than the latter stages of the Champions League.

Two of the other games a winner is relatively easy to predict, while another doesn't quite have the feel of a Champions League tie. Chelsea against PSG could go either way, and thus should be quite the epic.