PSG 1 Chelsea 1: Four talking points as Ivanovic nets in Paris
Four talking points as Chelsea draw 1-1 with Paris Saint-Germain in first leg of Champions League last-16 tie
A Bridge too far for PSG?
After two ties of such drama and contrasts in last year’s Champions League quarter-final, a 1-1 draw was a bit of an anti-climax, especially in the subdued first half. Paris Saint-Germain did come out a lot stronger in the second, in particular Blaise Matuidi down the wing and goalscorer Edison Cavani finding space in the middle. But Chelsea lacked any spark. Then again, being able to grind out a draw away from home when at far from your best is the sign of the great team and the odds will probably be on Chelsea to do the business at The Bridge. Jose Mourinho said: “I’m happy with the result because two legs is now one leg with everything to play for at the Bridge.”
After bemoaning, among other things fixture scheduling and supposed conspiracies among pundits and officials, the Chelsea boss has now turned on the vagaries of chance and medical science, accounting for his team’s sub-par performance with the fact that “five players didn’t train to play [tonight] once”. There is at least some truth to his claim, but it’s hardly as if he’s the only manager in history to be affected by short- to medium-term injuries (and a suspension to Diego Costa, which the Spaniard can only have himself to blame for frankly). Also, Mourinho is in a far better financial position than most to build a squad capable of cushioning the blow of injuries. Petr Cech, Filipe Luis, Kurt Zouma, Oscar, Didier Drogba, Loic Remy and Juan Cuadrado were all on a bench tonight which contained probably over £100m worth of quality. That said, his methods of shielding the team from public criticism obviously works. Just – as you’ve probably learnt by now – take his comments with a heavy pinch of salt.
Parking the bus – literally
In an incident some are describing as a delicious irony, the Chelsea bus became stuck in the gangway on the entrance to Parc des Princes, meaning players had to get off and walk the rest off the distance. On the pitch, they didn’t park the metaphorical bus as much as they have done in previous games, but they did not show much adventure, with Costa starved off service and not hungry enough to create anything for himself. He did not have one touch in the PSG penalty area. His main contribution to the game came in some argy-bargy with one notorious ex-Blue…
Not a bad one to Luiz?
Branislav Ivanovic, who so often pops up from full back with a crucial goal, did so again here, slipping a yard or two behind his marker David Luiz in the penalty area and converting a tricky header from Gary Cahill’s flick on (and a good John Terry cross, making it strange all-defenders goal). It wasn’t a huge mistake from Luiz – frankly the Brazilian has had far great defensive lapses – but it hints at why Mourinho didn’t get in his way of Luiz’s wanting to leave. And by all accounts it worked out pretty well for him in the end given the huge £50m transfer fee, an amount which this summer bought, in one of Luiz’s positions, Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic, both brilliant this season. Also, Zouma is progressing well as cover at centre-half behind Terry and Cahill (though the first-choice pair were not at their best tonight).