Travelling to the Parc de Princes to play Paris Saint-Germain provided a feeling of Groundhog Day from last season’s meeting in the Champions League, but the game represented a baptism of fire given the contrasting fortunes between the two teams this season.
The defending French champions are already over the hill and far away in Ligue 1 with a twenty-four point lead that should prove enough to secure their fourth consecutive title, while Chelsea have already realistically wrote off any chances of retaining their Premier League crown following a campaign that has left the club closer to a relegation fight.
Bookies.com believe that the Blues are more than safe to put their league campaign behind them and focus on going again next season, but they have gave themselves a real opportunity of progressing in the Champions League after the first leg in the French capital.
It is often difficult to find comfort in defeat, but Chelsea should come away from the game with encouragement that they can gain revenge for last season’s painful exit at Stamford Bridge. Guus Hiddink’s men showed glimpses of their true selves against in superb form who were expected to dominate the game, and may have even surprised themselves with how they applied themselves given how it has gone wrong in the Premier League.
The game could have panned out differently if it was not for Kevin Trapp’s miraculous save from Diego Costa’s header early in the first half; some may feel that the Spaniard should have scored, but nothing should be taken away from the outstretched, one-handed tip onto the bar from Trapp. However, John Obi Mikel, who does not normally find himself on the scoresheet, may have provided Chelsea with the advantage with a crucial away goal that makes the job of overturning the 2-1 deficit a lot easier.
Edinson Cavani’s late winner proved decisive on a night where two teams took a positive, attacking approach against each other, with Paris Saint-Germain arriving in England next month with a lead to hold onto. Chelsea may present good value to take up one of Paddy Power free bets offers on Bookies.com to progress to the Quarter Finals as the scoreline is not in their favour. You can’t argue with a free bet, especially when the Blues have proven themselves more than capable of scoring against the French champions.
The big question ahead of the second leg is whether Chelsea can stop Paris Saint-Germain from cancelling out Mikel’s away goal, with Hiddink likely to rely on a strong defensive performance if the Blues manage to level the aggregate score or go one better and force the French champions to prove their credentials.
Paris Saint-Germain are certainly armed with enough attacking quality to pose a real danger in the second leg, but although a repeat of last season’s thriller at Stamford Bridge would be welcomed by the neutrals, it would be made all the sweeter if Chelsea came out victorious instead of walking away with an empty feeling in the stomach once again.
Thiago Silva’s 114th minute header will bring back painful memories for Chelsea fans who believed the team had done enough to progress, but going out on away goals in extra time was difficult to take. However, the Blues have already proven that they are able to keep a clean sheet against Paris Saint-Germain on home soil, with the 2-0 victory two years ago allowing Chelsea to reach the Champions League Semi-Finals after pulling back a first leg deficit.
Backing another clean sheet may carry strong value to take up a Paddy Power free bets offer, but if Chelsea find a way to keep the likes of Angel Di Maria and Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiet, then they may only need their attacking game to be on the money to send Paris Saint-Germain packing.