Who: Paris Saint-Germain FC vs. Chelsea FC
What: UEFA Champions League, Quarterfinals (Leg 1)
Where: Parc des Princes, Paris, France
When: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Weather: The Weather Channel Forecast Paris
Time: 19:45 GMT/2:45 p.m. ET/11:45 a.m. PT
Worldwide Livestreams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
TV: Fox Sports 1, Fox Soccer 2Go, Fox Sports GO (US); Sky Sports 1/HD (UK)
Radio: SiriusXM FC Sirius 108 (Internet 965), BBC Radio 5 Live
3-Way Odds: Paris Saint-Germain Even, Chelsea +290, Draw +240
Total: Over 2½ +130, Under 2½ -155
Decimal Odds: Paris Saint-Germain 2.00, Chelsea 3.90, Draw 3.40
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 2.30, Under 2½ 1.65
Fractional Odds: Paris Saint-Germain 1/1, Chelsea 29/10, Draw 12/5
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 13/10, Under 2½ 20/31
Pick Odds: Paris Saint-Germain Pick -220, Chelsea Pick +180
First Half: Paris Saint-Germain Pick -180, Chelsea Pick +140
Paris Saint-Germain +165, Chelsea +300, Draw +110
Over 1 +105, Under 1 -135
Odds To Advance: Paris Saint-Germain -105, Chelsea -115
Odds To Win Champions League: Paris Saint-Germain 10/1, Chelsea 10/1
Source: Bovada (Kahnawake, Canada)
3-Way Odds: Paris Saint-Germain +100, Chelsea +300, Draw +240
Total: Over 2 -140, Under 2 +120
Source: LVH SuperBook (Las Vegas, Nevada USA)
If Chelsea ever needed a clutch performance by its offense, it will be against Paris Saint-Germain in France this Wednesday in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinals series.
The Blues find themselves in a sudden crisis of confidence after losing consecutive road matches in English Premier League play last month—both by the score of 1-0—to Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, putting a bit of a damper on Chelsea’s championship dreams as Liverpool and Manchester City continued their winning ways.
So does fate have in store another late and soul-crushing 1-0 road loss for the Blues in The City of Light? It could very well happen Celery Heads so best prepare yourselves. Les Rouge-et-Bleu (The Red and Blue) don’t lose at home and they have allowed only five goals in 15 home games at Parc des Princes in Ligue 1 play. Very scary.
And strictly as a matter of opinion, PSG may be the third-best club in the world right now—behind Bayern Munich and Real Madrid—although the latest Elo Ratings have Chelsea at No. 6 (1,919 points) and PSG at No. 7 (1908). But most elite clubs in Europe would probably much rather face a team with an anemic strikeforce like the Blues (Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres) than a deadly one like PSG’s (Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani).
You get the point now. Peanut butter or chocolate.
Ibrahimovic (25 goals/11 assists in Ligue 1) will no doubt be the most dangerous player on the pitch for either side, and at 6’5”, the versatile Swede will be hard to handle even for Chelsea’s very talented back four of Cesar Azpilicueta, John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic, which boasts the best defense in the league (24 goals) in front of always-dependable goalkeeper Petr Cech.
PSG (23-7-1, 73 goals for, 18 goals against) heads into this opening leg in first place in Ligue 1, a healthy 13 points ahead of second-place AS Monaco (76-63) and Les Parisiens are an unbeaten 12-3-0 (42-5 goals) at Parc des Princes, a stadium named after the historic hunting grounds of the monarchs on which it now sits. Lah-di-dah Pierre. Now please pass that Grey Poupon before my baguette gets stale.
So the French hosts' defense may actually even be a bit stingier than that of their bus-parking English visitors. And with goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, defenders Maxwell, Alex, standout Thiago Silva and Gregory van der Wiel (knee) or Christophe Jallet and midfielders Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti, well, PSG is going to be very hard to score against on Wednesday.
What will happen in this opening leg on Wednesday?
Toss in the aforementioned and seemingly perpetual reality now of Chelsea’s Never-Ending Striker Woes and the fact that Les Rouge-et-Bleu and manager Laurent Blanc also have guys like stud Edinson Cavani (14 goals), Thiago Motta, Javier Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi (seven goals) and Lucas Moura (nine assists) and maybe a draw will seem like a win here for Blues manager Jose Mourinho and the visitors.
Chelsea (21-6-5) lost its lead in the Premier League over the weekend thanks to a late Terry own goal against Palace in that 1-0 stunner at Selhurst Park, which eventually dropped them into second place, two points behind the red-hot Reds (69-71 points) and superman Luis Suarez.
The Blues will surely have to place a speedy team on the field for this one, which means Ramires and Willian and Eden Hazard (14 goals) and maybe even Andre Schurrle will likely be in The Special One’s starting XI, but the former two midfielders will have to start doing some scoring to contribute to an offense which needs to get goals from as many options as possible considering the much-talked about Eto’o-Torres-Demba Ba reality at SW6.
And even Eto’o’s participation in this game is a big question mark heading in, with the 32-year-old Cameroonian still nursing a hamstring injury he sustained against Arsenal. If Eto’o can’t go, that means Torres will likely get the call and Chelsea fans will be hoping the 30-year-old Spaniard will somehow continue his solid form—15 goals in 34 competitions—in international play when the team needs it most.
Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she? Humor me here monsieur.
So not having Eto’o may present a problem for the Blues, but not having the cup-tied Nemanja Matic with Ibrahimovic running wild on the PSG attack like Gerard Butler in the movie 300 will likely end up being Chelsea’s biggest concern. And even if the visitors' defense can somehow find a way to clamp down on Ibrahimovic—who has 10 goals in seven Champions League appearances for PSG so far—Cavani and Lavezzi and Moura and Motta and others will likely still loom large.
This one definitely won’t be easy.
Chelsea does have two clean sheets in previous European meetings with PSG and has only allowed two scores in its last seven matches in the tournament and has yet to give up a first-half goal in Champions League play this season so the defense should be able to keep the English side close.
But new Euro powerhouse PSG has lost just once in its last 16 Champions League appearances (11-4-1) and Les Rouge-et-Bleu have scored more per shot (28.2 percent) than any other side in the prestigious tournament thanks in great part to pricey and talented strikers Ibrahimovic and Cavani, the latter a long-rumored Blues transfer target.
So what happens when irresistible force (Chelsea) meets immovable object (PSG) in the city on the Seine? For me, it’s edge immovable object and the home team, as the Blues, will likely have trouble scoring in this one and Les Rouge-et-Bleu have scored in 16 straight, tallying at least twice in 12 of those contests.
Logically, from a handicapping perspective, the big bad Ibrahimovic should be the difference here and it would surprise no one if he got the game’s only goal in a 1-0 PSG win. And from Chelsea’s perspective, it would probably be more than happy to head home to West London for next Tuesday’s second leg (April 8) with a draw and maybe even a precious road goal or two.
For the Blues to have a chance at the road win here, someone like Schurrle or Torres or maybe even David Luiz (ankle) or a defender will have to try to put Chelsea on the board first and deflate the noisy French crowd. After relying so heavily on its defense to get it where it is, the Europa League champions will really need their offense to step up big in this first leg.
Next up on Chelsea’s schedule is a Premier League date with Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (NBC, 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT). Safe to say, this is prime time for the Blues and its fans and any silverware won over the next two months will certainly be hard-earned.
PREDICTION: Paris Saint-Germain 1 Chelsea 0
BETS: PSG Even, Under 2½ -155