UEFA Champions League: Will Roman empire strike back?

With frontmen misfiring at Abramovich’s Chelsea, coach Mourinho may lean on Eto’o in last-eight return leg.

By: Reuters | London | Updated: April 8, 2014 11:57:54 am
Samuel Eto'o training ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash against PSG (Reuters) Samuel Eto’o training ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash against PSG (Reuters)

Jose Mourinho has been claiming his side have no decent strikers but whatever he may think, Chelsea still have the firepower to beat French champions Paris St Germain and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League on Tuesday. PSG, without injured spearhead Zlatan Ibrahimovic, do not need to score any goals at Stamford Bridge to knock Chelsea out following their 3-1 first leg win in Paris. It probably will not be as simple as that though, as Chelsea know a 2-0 win will see them through on the away goals rule.

Even if his strikers again fail to impress Mourinho, Chelsea have an array of midfielders capable of swinging the tie in favour of the London club. PSG do, though, start the match with a healthy advantage after Javier Pastore’s goal with the last kick of the game at the Parc des Princes last week gave them a buffer. However, Chelsea are a different proposition at home.

Eto’o risk?

Mourinho may play Samuel Eto’o, who hasn’t fully recovered from a hamstring injury he picked in the 6-0 win over Arsenal at the end of March. Eto’o is said to be recovering faster

“If we don’t score a minimum of two goals, we are out. We know that,” said Mourinho. “If we can have everybody available who can give us a chance to score goals then let’s do that. So maybe I will pick him but to risk a player you need to have minimum conditions. If you think he’s going to be out after 10 minutes of the game you can’t take that risk. But if there is a minimum of conditions of risk, then, yes, I will pick him.”

On Saturday they brushed Stoke City aside 3-0 in the Premier League, with all three goals coming from midfielders: Mohamed Salah, Willian and Frank Lampard, who has now scored 250 club goals for West Ham United, Swansea City and Chelsea. He also has another 29 for England.

It was their 77th unbeaten home league match in Mourinho’s two spells at the club, and they have also proved in the past in Europe, most recently against Napoli two seasons ago, that no task is to large for them to overcome at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho was not in charge of Chelsea when they overturned a 3-1 first leg defeat by Napoli in the round of 16 in 2012, winning 4-1 at home in the return match before going on to win the trophy in Munich.

While he has never lost a quarter-final tie with Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan or Real Madrid, he has also never overturned a two-goal first leg deficit in European competition.

Hazard belief

“We know it won’t be easy at home but we can turn the tie around,” midfielder Eden Hazard, who scored from the penalty spot and hit the woodwork in the first leg, said.

“We have proved we can do this before, and we can do it again next week.”

Winger Andre Schurrle, preferred to 50 million pounds ($82.95 million) striker Fernando Torres in Paris, agreed they were down after the defeat, but not out. “It’s the worst time of the season to get results like this (but) we are a different team at Stamford Bridge with our fans behind us. It will be difficult but it is not impossible.”

There is some comfort in the absence of Ibrahimovic after hurting his hamstring. With Ibrahimovic sidelined, coach Laurent Blanc will field Cavani as number nine with Lavezzi and Lucas on the left and right flanks respectively. Blanc insisted PSG will stay true to their style even without Ibrahimovic. “Our philosophy and our tactics will not change,” he said.

For all the latest Sports News, download Indian Express App

Share your thoughts