Chelsea welcome Paris Saint-Germain to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday for the crucial second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie. The French side have a 3-1 lead from the first leg, and the Blues’ away goal could prove to be the deciding factor.
Jose Mourinho has re-established Stamford Bridge as a fortress since his return last June. Chelsea have conceded just one goal in nine home fixtures in 2014, and they will need to maintain that record to advance in the competition.
Despite their errors in the reverse fixture, the back four should remain the same. Mourinho made it clear that he did not blame his defence for the disappointing result when he told the press:
When you make defensive mistakes you are in trouble, that's simple. We made individual mistakes in areas where for the whole season the guys have performed and they have the right to do that.
Assuming that they got their mistakes out of their system in Paris, Cesar Azpilicueta, John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic are the Blues’ best defensive options.
With Nemanja Matic cup-tied, John Obi Mikel injured and Ramires suspended, David Luiz and Frank Lampard will make up the holding midfield pairing. Lampard spoke about the PSG tie after Saturday’s Premier League win over Stoke City, telling the press:
The problem with Champions League football is that you can't settle for having good periods in the game like we did the other night. The quality levels are so high that in little moments you can end up losing the game. That was the disappointing thing about Paris but we've got the ability and we've got the desire. We have to have confidence in ourselves and go and try and turn it around.
With so many midfielders unavailable, Nathan Ake could make the bench in case of emergency. Ake was Chelsea’s breakthrough star of the 2012-13 season and made the bench for the Europa League final, despite being just 18 years old at the time.
Willian’s strength and pace alongside his excellent goal on Saturday should see him return to the starting XI for this crucial match. Eden Hazard entered the Stoke game from the bench, but he is virtually guaranteed a start against PSG.
Andre Schurrle started as a striker in the reverse fixture until Fernando Torres was introduced, but a late challenge from Charlie Adam on Saturday has put the chances of that happening again in doubt. If he is unavailable, Oscar will provide more than adequate cover in the No. 10 role.
Samuel Eto’o is unlikely to be fit in time for this match, and with Fernando Torres receiving praise for his efforts if not his attainment, he should lead the line in London.
The Premier League title race is out of their hands, and the squad know that a season without silverware is unacceptable at Stamford Bridge. Although this season has been extremely competitive in the Champions League, it represents Chelsea’s best chance of a trophy, and they will be well aware of the fallout if they fail to put up a fight on Tuesday.
All information from the Official Chelsea website unless otherwise noted.