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UEFA CL: Blanc prepares PSG for Chelsea challenge

February 15, 2016 5:57 PM
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Laurent Blanc acknowledged Paris Saint-Germain's "entire season will be judged on our Champions League campaign" as they prepare to play Chelsea for the third year running.

Paris: Trapp; Marquinhos (Van der Wiel), Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Maxwell; Matuidi, Thiago Motta, Verratti (Rabiot); Di María, Ibrahimović, Cavani.

Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Ivanović, Cahill, Rahman; Fàbregas, Mikel; Hazard, Willian, Pedro; Costa.

We'll need to impose our game on Chelsea, a team who are very difficult to play and capable of beating us – so I won't adapt my starting XI depending on John Terry's availability.

We met Chelsea in the past two seasons: they beat us once and we eliminated them once, which shows the level of the two teams is very similar.

The Champions League gives them an opportunity for positive things in an otherwise difficult season, and their manager is very experienced having won the competition already. This will be a very difficult match.

Terry's potential absence could be very important for Chelsea, as he's an important player both on the pitch and in terms of team spirit; he's also very important on set pieces. We saw that on Saturday – when he went off, it completely changed the defensive line.

I still have two uncertainties regarding my lineup: between Marquinhos and [Gregory] Van der Wiel for right-back, and also another one. I almost have a full squad available – apart from a player who ruled himself out [Serge Aurier].

I know that Marco [Verratti, groin] is not fit enough for 90 minutes but I want to use him. Now I have to chose whether he will start or finish the game. Apart from that, the squad is very focused on the match.

We all know our entire season will be judged on our Champions League campaign – for most media, not winning the league is not an option, and it would also look bad not to win both domestic cups.

The Champions League is something else, because we only face clubs that have the same level or higher as us.

We have the capacity to do well in this competition, more so that in previous years, notably thanks to our experienced players.

Starting now, we'll only face teams that have the quality to win it. But that's when things become the most interesting for the club, for the players and for the manager. We have the potential to win this competition.

Laurent Blanc rested Zlatan Ibrahimović, Maxwell, Thiago Motta and skipper Thiago Silva. Javier Pastore (calf) and Marco Verratti (groin), out since 16 and 31 January respectively, made their returns from injury.

Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle (Diego Costa 5, Pedro Rodríguez 9 59, Willian 17, Traoré 83; Townsend 90)

Chelsea's biggest league victory of the campaign was tempered by an injury to captain John Terry, who was replaced by Abdul Baba Rahman seven minutes before half-time. On target in an FA Cup tie last month, Bertrand Traoré, 20, opened his top-flight account for the Londoners.

Round three between Paris and Chelsea promises to be as fascinating as their encounters in the last two seasons, with both teams claiming an away-goals win apiece.

A massive 24 points clear in Ligue 1 and suffering none of the injury problems that prefigured their meeting last term, the French outfit appear favourites this time – but that was true of Chelsea last season and look how that turned out ...

The sides' two most recent ties both ended 3-3 on aggregate, Chelsea winning the first on away goals in 2013/14, and Paris prevailing in the second last spring.


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