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Champions League: Chelsea hoping to profit from PSG’s struggles in battle of the super-rich

17 Feb | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Champions League: Chelsea hoping to profit from PSG’s struggles in battle of the super-rich

Two of the continent’s most wealthy clubs meet in France on Tuesday night. But while all is rosy in west London, the same cannot be said of Laurent Blanc’s hosts

Put it down to the Jose Mourinho factor. Put it down to Manchester City giving new meaning to the word ‘flaky’. Call it sheer luck if you fancy; the undeniable fact is that, without even playing especially well in recent weeks, Chelsea have established what looks like an unassailable lead in the Premier League title race.

Sure it’s only mid-February, but no other side in the division has shown much indication that they have what it takes to reel the Blues in. Mourinho’s recent tangles with the media appear to be born more out of boredom than any need to galvanise team spirit or anything else.

For the west London side, then, the return of European football is as welcome as the thawing of winter. Finally, a real challenge for Mourinho to sink his battle-sharpened teeth into.

The draw has been kind to Chelsea, who make the short trip over the channel to face a Paris Saint-Germain side that is in the middle of something of an identity crisis. After two seasons of domestic bliss bankrolled by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), the 2014/15 campaign has been marked by a turgid brand of football that has left PSG third in Ligue 1, behind Lyon and Marseille.

The pressure is beginning to show on coach Laurent Blanc, who has at times looked utterly overwhelmed by the task at hand. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the strained relations between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani. The former’s occasional refusal to even pass to the Uruguayan – and Blanc’s silent acquiescence – shows who wears le pantalon at the Parc des Princes. (Spoiler: he’s big and Swedish.)

Recent displays have been underwhelming: PSG conceded twice in the final five minutes to throw away a two-goal lead against modest Caen, while the 4-2 reverse at Bastia will live long in the memories of fans for all the wrong reasons. There are also injury issues: Serge Aurier, Yohan Cabaye, Marquinhos and Lucas Moura all look set to miss out.

Captain Thiago Silva has called for unity ahead of Tuesday’s game (“We need all our supporters behind us. We are a lot stronger when we have them pushing us on”) but there is a sense that defeat could be the final nail in Blanc’s coffin, with European success an increasingly important part of QSI’s vision for the club.

All of which, you imagine, will have Chelsea feeling fairly confident of piling on the misery. With Diego Costa ready to make his return to the side and Cesc Fabregas fit again after injury, it would take a brave man – or a Parisian – to bet against them.

9/5Chelsea to win the first leg