When Paris Saint-Germain host Chelsea on Tuesday it will be the third straight season that the two teams have faced off in the Champions League knockout phase
Chelsea +1 at 5/4 BetVictor
This is the second successive match-up of these two sices in the Champions League last sixteen, after PSG won the tie last year. Much has changed since then with Chelsea in the bottom half of the Premier League and PSG dominating Ligue 1.
Champions of France for the last three years, PSG are now more dominant than ever, currently leading Ligue 1 by 25 points. They have not lost in 33 domestic matches this season. PSG lost in the Champions League group stages to Real Madrid and qualified second from their group.
Yet there is a strong feeling that PSG are now the strongest they have been since the Qatar-funded takeover of the club in 2011 that propelled them to prominence. After three straight quarter-final exits, PSG are now ready to take the next step to the latter stages of the competition.
At Chelsea the club finds themselves closer to the relegation zone than the top of the table, or even a top four place that would earn them a return to the Champions League for next season. Players that excelled in winning the title last season have disappointed for much of this campaign, chiefly Eden Hazard who has failed to find the back of the net in either the Premier League or the Champions League this term.
Those failures cost manager Jose Mourinho his job just three days after the draw for the Champions League Round of 16 was made in mid-December.If all that points toward PSG being strong favorites to progress to the quarter-finals for a fourth straight season, then we need to consider that Chelsea now are a different proposition under Guus Hiddink. Chelsea have gone 11 matches unbeaten. Diego Costa has eight goals in 10 games under Hiddink and all focus is on the only realistic hope of returning to the Champions League next season: winning it.
Last season’s victory over Chelsea looked set to be the moment when PSG truly joined Europe’s elite and where Blanc showed he was the manager who could take them there. However, a subsequent quarter-final loss to Barcelona meant the doubts immediately returned. And lacklustre performances in both matches against Real Madrid in this season’s group phase did little to dispel questions over whether PSG really can take the next step.
Despite how impressive they have been in France, they will again have a point to prove against Chelsea. Chelsea have been solid at the back in recent weeks and will go to Paris hoping to keep things tight ahead of the return leg at Stamford Bridge. PSG’s attacking quality going up against a Chelsea defense that may be missing captain John Terry as well as long-term injury casualty Kurt Zouma, understandably sees them favourites.
PSG are 8/11, Chelsea 5/1 and the Draw 13/5 for this first leg. With it likely to be cagey, Chelsea +1 at 5/4 on the handicap with BetVictor appeals.
Chelsea +1 at 5/4 BetVictor