Chelsea have a mountain to climb in their Champions League quarter-final second leg against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, having endured a humbling 3-1 defeat in the reverse fixture.
The Blues never got going in the first leg at Parc des Princes, and BBC Sport’s photo via Twitter summed up the feeling in the Chelsea camp after Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore found the net for the Parisians either side of a David Luiz own goal:
However, with Eden Hazard’s penalty giving Chelsea an all-important away goal, the chance of semi-final progression is still there if Jose Mourinho gets his tactics right at Stamford Bridge.
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: Tuesday, April 8
Time: 7:45 p.m BST/2:45 p.m. ET
TV Info: ITV/Fox Sports 1
All or nothing for Chelsea
With Chelsea only third favourites for the Premier League title, per Oddschecker, Tuesday’s clash will likely determine whether the Special One has been a success on his return to the Chelsea hot seat.
The Blues returned to winning ways on Saturday with a 3-0 win over Stoke City, but they face a different animal in PSG.
However, said animal won’t be at full strength, with the mercurial Zlatan Ibrahimovic ruled out of the match with a hamstring problem.
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi spoke with French radio station RMC to discuss the Swede’s injury, as reported by Sky Sports:
"He is doing an MRI now. I think he will need a minimum of four weeks (out of action)."
Al-Khelaifi was then asked whether Ibrahimovic would be fit enough to line up at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, to which he replied: “It’s impossible.”
The Ligue 1 leaders do still have a wealth of talent at their disposal, though, and it would take a history-making Chelsea to progress against them, as OptaJoe revealed via Twitter:
3 - Chelsea join Man Utd, Liverpool & Spurs in conceding 3+ goals in a Champions League QF first leg. The others were eliminated. Concern.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 2, 2014
Per UEFA.com, Mourinho has an astounding record in the Champions League as a manager, winning 54 per cent of his matches in Europe’s elite club competition and picking up two winners’ medals.
It’ll have to be another masterclass from the Portuguese boss on Tuesday, otherwise Chelsea will likely go trophy-less for only the second season since the 2007-08 campaign.
Chelsea and PSG had met just once before their quarter-final tie in this season’s competition, the Parisians failing to score against the Blues across their two group matches in the 2004/05 season.
Chelsea, under Mourinho, ran out 3-0 victors in Paris before drawing 0-0 at Stamford Bridge.
The first goal on Tuesday night will be the most important in the context of the tie, and Chelsea must ensure their defence isn’t breached if they’re to stand any chance of progression.
However, as OptaJoe reported via Twitter, the Blues’ record of keeping clean sheets in Champions League quarter-final ties is slightly concerning:
2 - Chelsea have now kept a clean sheet in only two of their 17 Champions League quarter-final matches. Usual.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 2, 2014
Striker Samuel Eto’o has scored three goals in his last three Champions League matches at Stamford Bridge.
The Cameroon international picked up a hamstring injury in the 6-0 Premier League demolition of Arsenal on March 22, but he is nearing a return to action.
Mourinho spoke to Martin Lipton of The Mirror regarding Eto’o’s selection for Tuesday’s clash, during which Chelsea must be ruthless in front of goal:
Maybe I will pick him. But to risk a player, you need to have minimum conditions to take that risk. If you think he's going to be out after 10 minutes of the game, you can't take that risk. If there is a minimum of conditions of risk, then yes. We need to score goals. If we don't score a minimum of two goals, we are out. We know that. If we can have everybody available who can give us a chance to score goals, then let's do that.
According to SoccerWay, PSG have lost just one of their four Champions League matches away from home this season, and they’ve never failed to get on the scoresheet—scoring 10 goals during their fruitful spell across Europe.
It’s a tough task for Mourinho and Chelsea, there’s no doubt about that, but as long as they don’t adopt the tactics that led to their downfall in Paris it could be another famous night in west London.
With Eto’o returning to the side and Oscar and Hazard fresh from a rest against Stoke, Chelsea will be raring to go on Tuesday and may well conjure the 2-0 scoreline that they crave.