UEFA Champions League: Why Chelsea Drawing Paris Saint-Germain Is Perfection

Daniel Tiluk@@danieltilukFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2014

NYON, SWITZERLAND - MARCH 21:  Paris Saint-Germain is drawn during the UEFA Champions League 2013/14 season quarter-finals draw at the UEFA headquarters, The House of European Football, on March 21, 2014 in Nyon, Switzerland.  (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images for UEFA)
Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

Chelsea's pairing with Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League quarter-final is a bit of proof for all you football agnostics that the football gods do exist.

Despite being seen as a favourable draw for Chelsea, the French champions are in no way an easy test.

Not by a long shot.

Chelsea's Scrooge-like defence vs. The Zlatan & Company—should be great.
Chelsea's Scrooge-like defence vs. The Zlatan & Company—should be great.Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

PSG are an attacking juggernaut, and on a poor day the Parisians can bag three goals from nothing. Laurent Blanc's side would make tough opponents for any team in Europe.

The 4-3-3 employed by Paris—with Edinson Cavani, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ezequiel Lavezzi as the attacking trident—is magnificently poised to create trouble for opposing defences. Anchored by arguably the world's best centre-back in Thiago Silva, the task of getting shots past Les Rouge-et-Bleu is an equally-daunting proposition for opponents.

So why the excitement from Blues supporters?

It's a great opportunity to watch the development of Jose Mourinho's second Chelsea project.

The Blues boss addressed Chelsea's UCL form in a February interview with Adidas:

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Chelsea in the Champions League [group stage] was...the profile of team we are in this moment. We are not yet a stable team. We are not yet a team ready to perform consistently game after game, week after week.

We are a team with...ups and downs. Four victories, two defeats I think shows...the quality of the team, but at the same time a little bit of inconsistency.

In the second part of his Adidas interview, Mourinho discussed his mission for Chelsea's 2013-14 Champions League campaign:

We have to use the competition, and the difficulties of the competition, to improve—to prepare ourselves for the future.

I think Chelsea wants to win and I want also to win—so we are going to play, and to fight, and to build the team, and to try to do our best this season...

PSG offer the perfect chance for the Chelsea manager to complete his task—as Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid may be a bridge too far for the Blues at this stage in their evolution.

By a mirrored logic, Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund—while certainly not simple tests—would have been underdogs to Chelsea, meaning the level of competition Mourinho is looking for would have been another round off.

Jose Mourinho's teams are unbeaten in the UCL quarter-final—will form hold?
Jose Mourinho's teams are unbeaten in the UCL quarter-final—will form hold?Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Atletico Madrid would have made an interesting tie.

Diego Costa is a rumored Chelsea target this summer, per Jamie Sanderson of Metro. Costa opposing Mourinho's side might have harkened back to 2003, when FC Porto played Olympique de Marseille in the UCL group stages.

An Ivorian striker, by the name of Didier Drogba, caught the eye of then Porto manager Mourinho, and due to Roman Abramovich's deep pockets, the rest—as they say—is history.

This season though, Atletico and Chelsea would be more or less equals. Again, not what Mourinho would want in terms of using the competition to improve. 

Champions League draws can be cruel, ask any Manchester United fan after drawing defending champions Bayern Munich. The further you advance, the more difficult the competition becomes.

Of the seven teams it was possible for Chelsea to draw, Paris Saint-Germain represented the correct balance of footballing quality and mental confidence. If the Blues play to the best of their ability, a semi-final berth is within reach—but only "if."

This sort of test is exactly what Mourinho wanted, and—better yet—it's exactly what his team needs.


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