Chelsea Need Realise There Is More To PSG Than Just Zlatan


This week Chelsea face French champions Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in the Champions League quarter finals. A lot of the attention will be drawn to the Parisian’s Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Of course Zlatan is world-class and he has proven in the past that he’s more than capable of turning games on their head with his immense talent. He is certainly the danger-man with 35 goals in 36 matches this season. You can also add 11 assists to his astonishing repertoire. He loves his flicks, tricks and scoring wonder goals. But he also thrives on conflict, so John Terry and co shouldn’t automatically try and rile him up.

So you can see why Chelsea and their supporters will pay Ibrahimovic so much attention.

But the London side need to wary, PSG have more about them than just the enigma that is Zlatan.

When the Qatari Investment Authority (QIA) bought the French side in 2011 they decided to chase a dream. The dream was to win the Ligue 1 title (mission accomplished) and then challenge in European’s top competition (getting there) and eventually win it (not accomplished as of yet). To realise that dream they need to have more about them than just one superstar.

PSG have a very strong spine to their team.

In goal they have Salvatore Sirigu. He is a wonderful goalkeeper in my opinion. He is very unfortunate to be around in the same era as Gianluigi Buffon, because PSG’s number one choice should have plenty more caps to his name. The excellent shot-stopper has conceded just five times in eight Campions League outings this term.

The team have only concede 18 times in the league this term. That has a lot to do with Sirigu of course but also with the men playing just in front of him. You’ll struggle to find a better defender in the world than Thiago Silva at this moment in time. Unlike Chelsea’s David Luiz, PSG’s Brazilian centre-back has consistency, a good tackle as well as the classy touches.

PSG aren’t weak in the middle of the park either with Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta and Blaise Matuidi usually occupying the midfield berths. Motta offers the team the dirty things like winning the ball back and making the challenges, he is also well versed in playing in the big matches. The Italian Verratti is still young but his keen eye for a pass and keep the ball moving is a fantastic trait for any footballer to have.

But for me the key man in the engine room is Matuidi. He is more like your box to box midfielder you get in the UK than those you get on the continent. His ability to cover so much ground helps the side as he provides support for the attackers and lets Motta sit deep without having to feel guilty about not getting forward. The French internationalist is now 26 years old and should really be adding more goals to his game. But his presence is vital for Les Parisiens.

As previously mentioned Zlatan is the main man for goals but PSG also have one Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan hitman might not be playing through the middle, his preferred choice, but he’s still dangerous out-wide on the right. He has amassed a very credible 18 goal haul in all competitions this term. Cavani also works imperiously for the team and never shy of running. It is his debut season in France but he has settled in well. Chelsea should also be warned that Edinson has bagged four goals in six European outings this campaign.

Another former Napoli man has found form again at PSG in Ezequiel Lavezzi. The Argentine wide-boy had a disappointing start to the season and was often dropped by boss Laurent Blanc. Then 2014 came as did Lavezzi’s prowess. In his 14 matches this calendar year Lavezzi has struck 6 times. Before then he only managed two goals in PSG’s opening 19 fixtures. The direct forward seemed to struggle to make an impact but now we are in a World Cup year the Argentine wants to remain in Alejandro Sabella (Argentina’s nation team manager) thoughts and to do this he needs to play well in France.

PSG also have a wide variety of useful options that can come in and help the side out at any given time. They have the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Javier Pastore, Jeremy Mendez, Alex and Maxwell in there too. These players may not be the main stars of the team but they have a vast amount of experience and are willing and ready if called upon.

You then can’t forget that the squad is complimented with a lot of talented youngsters such as Lucas Moura, Marquinhos, Lucas Digne and Adrien Rabiot. These players are all potential world beaters and can add some ‘oomph’ if its needed in the tie with Chelsea.

PSG have a few more positives ahead of this huge couple of legs. For example they are flying high in Ligue 1 and look set to retain the title for the first time in their history. On the other hand Chelsea are heavily involved in a four-way fight for the English Premier League title. They also don’t have too many injury concerns, with only Dutch right-back Gregory van der Wiel missing.

That said Chelsea have a few plus points of their own.

PSG manager Laurent Blanc is inexperienced at this level. He will be coming up against Jose Mourinho, one of footballs best tacticians. The ‘Special One’ is also one of the games masters of mind games. He will use every trick in the book to unsettle Blanc and his players. He has also worked very closely with Zlatan in the past and will have a game plan in place to nullify the Swedish magicians threat.

Mourinho will send out his attack minded stars with the idea of attacking right-back Christophe Jallet and seeing if the 30 year old can withstand the constant pressure. He will also detail his troops to run around and annoy Thiago Motta. As his former boss Mourinho will know Motta can be tempted to lose his temper and commit silly fouls.

Whatever happens on Wednesday it should certainly be one of the most entertaining quarter finals we’ll see this year in the Champions League. Chelsea will start off as favourites but Paris Saint-Germain will fancy their chances especially if all the French sides stars are shining brightly on the night.

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