PSG hurdle awaits Chelsea

PSG hurdle awaits Chelsea

Ibrahimovic will be the cynosure in first leg; Real face Dortmund

PSG hurdle awaits Chelsea

Paris St Germain must be ruthless in front of goal when they take on 2012 winners Chelsea in a Champions League quarterfinal first leg on Wednesday, according to coach Laurent Blanc.

The Ligue 1 champions-elect are on an eight-game winning streak in all competitions but the former France centre-back knows Chelsea, under Jose Mourinho, have the experience and defensive know-how to strangle any opposition.

"We will have to be more efficient," said Blanc. "We will have fewer chances and those we create we will have to convert.

"We know we need to be at another level," he added of the Parc des Princes clash.
Blanc's expensively-assembled squad have no equals in the domestic league, leading second-placed Monaco by 13 points with seven games left this season.

PSG also sailed through to the knockout stages of the Champions League from a group featuring Anderlecht, Porto and Olympiakos Piraeus before dismissing Bayer Leverkusen in the last 16.

The key to both games against Chelsea could be red-hot striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Swedish international is the runaway leading scorer in Ligue 1 this term with 25 goals, 11 ahead of team-mate Edinson Cavani and Alexandre Lacazette of Olympique Lyon who share second place.

Ibrahimovic has also excelled in the Champions League, bagging 10 goals in this season's competition so far.

The Ligue 1 leaders are expected to be at full strength although they have a slight doubt over Thiago Silva, who fractured his cheekbone 11 days ago.

The last time Chelsea visited the Parc des Princes in the 2004-05 group stages, for Mourinho's first European game as the London club's manager, they beat PSG 3-0.
Mourinho will be desperate for a reaction from his players after they delivered an abject show in Saturday's 1-0 defeat at struggling Crystal Palace.

Chelsea were sluggish in midfield and toothless in attack, prompting the Portuguese to say their Premier League title ambitions were now a thing of the past.

Gary Cahill, one of four defenders to escape Mourinho's wrath on Saturday, said it was a painful experience for the squad.

Midfielder Nemanja Matic and winger Mohamed Salah are ineligible, after joining Chelsea in the January transfer window. Forward Samuel Eto’o has been ruled out of the clash because of a hamstring strain.

Revenge tie

As Real Madrid struggle to maintain their La Liga title bid, a greater emphasis has been placed on winning a 10th European crown and this week they face a Borussia Dortmund side who famously blocked their path last season.

As each year passes, the desire for Real to claim a 10th European Cup, or ' La decima', has become more of an obsession and president Florentino Perez has spent lavishly to try and make it a reality by bringing in top talent from around the world. They last won the Champions League back in 2002 and their hopes were raised once more last season when they reached the semifinals only for Dortmund to conjure up a stunning upset.

They face off again in their quarterfinal first leg tie on Wednesday with Real under pressure to enjoy some continental success after two defeats in three league games has derailed their domestic campaign after a long unbeaten run.

Real may be facing a Dortmund side which has been blighted by injuries all season but coach Jurgen Klopp believes they can pull off a another surprise at the Bernabeu.
"With our budget and list of injuries... we are the underdogs in the tie," he told Spanish newspaper Marca.

"However, I always say that it is not necessary to be the best team in the world but to be capable of beating the best in the world in a one-off contest, and Borussia can beat the best.”

Along with the players in the treatment room, they will also miss talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski, who is suspended for the first leg.

"We are coming towards the end and it could be better after two defeats but we are physically in good shape, mentally we reacted well and we are optimistic," coach Carlo Ancelotti told a news conference. "On Wednesday, we will have a good atmosphere (in the stadium). Everyone has a dream, the tenth, and everyone understands that we can win if we are all united and we can realise the dream."