PSG 1-1 Chelsea – Click for UEFA link
I guess I’ve got a bit to say today. Paris drew with my team Chelsea in football’s Champions League round of 16 first leg. It was supposed to be a festival, but I knew it would turn into a tatical battle. The match was so keenly poised from the first whistle, really, and it was only through a bit of luck that we saw two goals in the end, both headers as well. PSG had the best of it. Chelsea didn’t play well. Costa was largely ineffective, having 0 shots on target, and the creative output from the midfield was really low. Fabregas looked tired and unfit and lacked any creativity, and for the second game running we saw practically no bursting runs forward from Ramires. Maybe the team is keeping something in the tank for the coming months and not blowing out their exhausts too early, but it could be a case of too little, too late, in the end, especially in the Champions League where there are bigger teams to meet than PSG, namely Real Madrid or Barcelona.
Really I couldn’t say much about the attacking unit of Chelsea. They looked like they played within themselves, and PSG is a team that is very hard to beat, especially on their home ground, where effectively they had 6 or 7 players defending every ball and making space hard to come by. Hazard was fouled probably more times than he placed an effective forward pass, (I’m guessing, but it’s probably true), and Willian’s lack of good attacking positions (he played mostly in-field) meant that there wasn’t really an out ball as usual, and virtually nothing going up to Costa who was wasted alone up-front. Nevertheless, the team got a result which is quite good, we’ve got an away goal, but we still need to most likely win the return leg, which is possible, but PSG will get chances because of their forwards. We need a very good day and for them to have an average one. PSG and Chelsea for me are very closely matched in terms of quality.
One bright spot- Ivanovic. Just wow. He is Chelsea’s best player by a mile at the moment. 3 goals in his last 3 games from right-back. He bullied and beat Maxwell, and Lavezzi. Cavani was the only player who just got the better of him, and even then he was clever enough to tug the Argentine back and take a yellow card. Ibrahimovic didn’t go near him for knowing he wouldn’t get the ball past or off him.
Cahill was Cahill again, he set up the goal, but he got caught out positionally and generally just looked like our weak link, along with Terry. Unfortunate to say though but the weakest part of the team are the two English central defenders. It must be said it’s a very hard positon to play, though, especially against top rank opposition.
It can be said the score was kept down by Courtois, who again made one spectacular save from Cavani, and another pretty good one from Ibrahimovic.
Azpilicueta played thoroughly well as always at left-back. He rarely ventured forward, but no mistakes.
Ramires alone is too restricted as a central midfielder. It’s not his game. He can play it tidly, but he doesn’t pull up any trees defensively, he really must be allowed to attack because it’s his best asset.
Fabregas looked out of sorts actually and very unfit. When he came off he was blowing out. He covered 10.6km or somewhere close to this, which I think was our highest on the night, so he obviously got around the pitch, but his passing was nowhere near as effective or good as it can be.
Hazard was fouled, a lot! He was fouled 9 times, a clear game high. The next most was Luiz who got 6 who was pretty well bullied throughout by a few Chelsea players. Hazard actually made 30 passes, none were that great.
The highest midfield passer in the game was Marco Verratti with a completion rate of 94%, completing 74 passes. Luiz had the most with 80 completed. The highest Chelsea player was Matic with 77 passes at a rate also of 94%.
Thiago Silva, PSG captain at the back, only gave the ball away once, completing 99% of his 73 passes in total.
Diego Costa had the lowest touches of any outfield player.
All in all, a good game, but not a thriller. There’s a lot and a little at stake. One of these teams will definitely go out at this stage. One will go through and think about their chances of winning the cup. Whether they can or not still many steps ahead of where we are now.