Injuries hit PSG as they prepare for Chelsea test
16 February 2015, 09:24
Paris- Paris St Germain were never going to start as favourites against Chelsea in their Champions League last 16 clash but Saturday's catalogue of injuries has damaged the French champions' chances even further at the worst possible time.
PSG were cruising to a 2-0 victory against Caen in Ligue 1 but a series of injuries meant they finished the game with nine men and conceded two late goals in a 2-2 draw that left them third in the table.
Among those injured were utility back Marquinhos and forward Lucas, who were set to start the first leg against Chelsea at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday, a repeat of last year's quarter-final which the London club won on away goals.
Gregory van der Wiel and Ezequiel Lavezzi are likely to deputise but manager Laurent Blanc will also be without the injured Yohan Cabaye and Serge Aurier.
These problems only put more pressure on Blanc, who will feel further heat from PSG's Qatari owners if the club fail to qualify. He is adopting a brave face, though.
"We were already in difficulty like this before the first game against Barcelona (in the group stages) and we managed to pull through," said Blanc, who is at least hopeful that Blaise Matuidi will be fit after picking up a knock against Caen.
Last September, PSG beat Barcelona 3-1 while they were without Lavezzi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Jose Mourinho, Chelsea's manager, remains wary of the Ibrahimovic threat even though he has been far from his best this season, just like PSG.
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The Swede, however, did score only his fourth goal from open play this season against Caen.
"Zlatan is a beast," Chelsea striker Diego Costa told Sport Magazine. "He is among the best strikers in football history.
David Luiz says playing with Ibrahimovic was a major factor in him moving to PSG from Chelsea.
"Of course Mourinho knows him well from Inter and will have a plan to try to stop him but when Zlatan is on form he is unplayable," David Luiz told the Mail on Sunday.
Chelsea had an unexpected weekend off having exited the FA Cup against third tier Bradford City and the Premier League leaders have no major injury concerns as they turn their attention to making progress in Europe.
Another factor working in their favour.
"Jose Mourinho is a genius. He lost his Cup game and gave himself one more week to prepare for the return leg," Blanc joked with reporters.