A (Not So) Serious Look at How Paris Saint-Germain vs. Chelsea Will Play Out
The Champions League has, at last, returned. Some two months after the final group-stage matches were played, Europe's best (yes, including Chelsea) return to the big stage for the knockout phase on Tuesday.
As is contractually obliged around this time of year, the Blues travel to Paris to face Laurent Blanc's high-flying yet far-from-harmonious Ligue 1 leaders in the first leg.
We've taken a tongue-in-cheek look into the future to see how Guus Hiddink's side will (but actually probably won't) fare at the Parc des Princes this week.
Guus Hiddink is forced to downplay any rumours of discontent after Diego Costa is involved in his second training ground clash in a week.
The Spaniard fractures a wrist to go with his already broken nose and, armed with a mask and a cast, looks well and truly primed for action.
Laurent Blanc, meanwhile, enjoys a trouble-free build-up to the first leg—oh, wait.
Costa wastes no time getting stuck in.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic winds him up by loudly humming the Champions League anthem in his ear in the tunnel, to which the Spaniard responds by launching into a scything challenge after just 20 seconds. Costa is given a stern talking to, while Ibrahimovic appears to call him a "baby." The stage has been set.
Hazard shoots into Row Z, checks his mobile phone and smiles.
The visitors settle into the game and look the more likely, though most of their early chances fall to a rather bored-looking Hazard.
Oscar butchers a two-on-one, failing to pick out a wide-open Costa, who snarls angrily through his mask at his Brazilian team-mate.
Finally some decent movement from the home side—as Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria combine on the counter-attack.
Ibrahimovic has a golden chance to test Thibaut Courtois but is caught in possession trying a rainbow flick-juggle move on the edge of the area (he saw it done by Neymar).
Blanc shakes his head on the sideline...
David Luiz earns a yellow card for a crunching tackle on Cesar Azpilicueta, who needs treatment from Chelsea's medical staff.
The physios glance anxiously three or four times to make sure the manager approves of their intervention before running to the aid of the full-back.
Azpilicueta can't continue and Luiz is subjected to even more jeers from the away support.
It gets no easier for Chelsea; Gary Cahill takes a tumble in his own penalty area and is slow to get to his feet—he's limping but carries on after his manager realises he's the only central defender left at the club.
Cameras spot Jose Mourinho, wearing a red-and-white scarf and furiously crossing out the word "Mata" in a black notebook, in the stands.
Goalless at the break and Hiddink has a tough choice to make: Persist with an injured Cahill or mix things up at the back? Reminded that Branislav Ivanovic is his next best option to deputise in central defence, Hiddink's mind is made for him.
In the opposing dressing room, Ibrahimovic falls through a door, Cavani stumbles into a television camera and Di Maria is upset that nobody asked him to join in with the fun.
PENALTY TO CHELSEA!
Costa shoves Thiago Silva on to the turf and the Brazilian rolls his back on to the ball—under the hastily implemented "Clattenburg Rule," that's a spot-kick!
Hazard tries a Cruyff—or is that a Messi?—from the spot, but his team-mates aren't on the same page; Kevin Trapp dives gratefully on the loose ball. Hiddink is fuming, and Hazard is promptly replaced by Pedro.
Costa's frustration goes up a further notch...
GOAL! Chelsea take the lead and it's an inspired substitution from Hiddink.
Pedro and Willian exchange passes on the edge of the area and the Blues capture a vital away goal.
Diego Costa misses the celebrations as he's involved in a screaming match with a home fan who called him "hot-headed."
Chelsea are incensed when Costa is denied a second penalty of the game after being brought down in the penalty area. The Spaniard needs to be restrained by his team-mates after confronting the referee.
The cameras pan back to Mouirnho, who is now glaring unblinkingly at Blanc while wearing a PSG shirt and mouthing the words "your job is mine."
Ibrahimovic clatters into Cahill, and this time the defender's not getting back up.
Hiddink has used all his substitutions and calls—in a desperate attempt to protect the lead—for Costa to slot back into the heart of defence. The Dutchman is visibly urging his makeshift defender to "remain calm" and "think."
Costa is shown a straight red card for a two-footed lunge on Cavani.
A man up and Chelsea well and truly parking the bus, PSG continue to push for an equaliser.
Di Maria volleys from 40 metres on the angle and is devastated when his shot flies wide. Moments later, Cavani strikes the woodwork and Thiago Silva nods over from a corner.
Chelsea are just about hanging on...
But they can't keep out the home side! Ibrahimovic backheels home a leveller in stoppage time, but the Chelsea defenders (well, the ones who remain) are protesting over what should have been given as an offside in the build-up.
One fan in the away section is ejected after comparing the goal to John Terry's equaliser against Everton last month, and Costa comes barging back up the tunnel to protest the goal.
It stands, the referee calls full-time and it's finished all square.
Pundits officially deem Chelsea vs. Paris Saint-Germain a "grudge match" and begin promoting subplots for the second leg in London.
A downtrodden Hiddink faces the press sporting a black eye he promises "wasn't caused by an angry Costa."
Facing the prospect of a home leg without his main striker and several defenders, the Dutchman glances toward Roman Abramovich before declaring his side still in contention for a top-four finish in the Premier League and insists the FA Cup is "the most prestigious trophy in world football."
Mourinho meets Abramovich in the car park, and the two have their say in a Twitter poll.