English teams are an integral part of the Champions League football and are always favourites to make it to the semi-finals. Though only Chelsea have consistently performed in Champions League over the last few years, the recent results of Manchester City and Arsenal in Europe offers better performance from the English sides. Only Arsenal out of the three English clubs has got a favourable fixture. Chelsea has a tough trip to Paris and Manchester City has another tough draw against Barcelona. Though both teams boast excellent coaches and squads, they haven’t performed exceptionally in the away fixtures though City has come up with some great form in their last few fixtures against Bayern and AS Roma. Arsenal, who usually ends up with tough fixtures in the round of 16 has miraculously got an easy fixture against Monaco. Let us analyse each fixture and predict the possible results for English teams in Champions League.
1st leg: 17th February – Venue: Parc des Princes
2nd leg: 11th March – Venue: Stamford Bridge
PSG key players: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marco Verratti
Chelsea key players: Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, Fabregas, Matic
This is probably the most exciting clash of the season as two big money teams face off each other in the round of 16 in the Champions League. Though some rival fans call this ‘El Cashico’, not many can argue about the quality of players in these two teams. Both teams have excellent match winners who can flip the match upside down. Though Chelsea was successful against PSG when they met last year, PSG has been in excellent form and their prowess was displayed in the 3-2 victory against an excellent Barcelona team without their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Although PSG are 2nd in Ligue 1 due to their early failings, they have slowly picked up their form recently and have played some outstanding football.
Despite an excellent start to the season, Chelsea has recently faced a dip in form as they drew against Sunderland and lost to Newcastle in the Premier League. Chelsea had a relatively easy group in the Champions League as they have an unbeaten record despite some scares against Schalke and NK Maribor. Chelsea probably has one of the best squads in the Champions League and is led by one of the best managers in Europe. Despite this, Chelsea has some weakness in terms of the striking department as they are hugely reliant upon Diego Costa who has been struggling with injuries since the start of the season. Chelsea goes into the fixture as the favourites with their superior squad strength and Champions League experience as compared to PSG.
- Ibrahimovic vs Courtois
A world class striker facing off a world class goal keeper is always a mouth-watering prospect. Ibrahimovic’s unpredictability against Courtois’s reflexes will be fun for the neutral spectators. Both of them boasts of not only huge talent but also huge egos, so this might turn out to be one of the most important clash that will determine the result of this tie.
- Marco Verratti vs Cesc Fabregas
Fabregas’s return to Premier League has been a success for him as well as the club. His partnership with Diego Costa has simply rocked the PL defences this season. It has reminded many viewers of the scintillating partnership between Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres half a decade ago. Stopping Fabregas’s supply to Diego Costa will probably be on the top of the list of strategies for Laurent Blanc. In order to do this he has probably one of the most promising defensive midfielders in the world in the form Marco Verratti. He played a crucial role in PSG’s win against Barca and he will continue to be crucial in order to keep Fabregas in check.
- Thiago Silva vs Diego Costa
Not many argue with the fact that Thiago Silva is one of the best defenders in the world. He is an excellent organiser and a skilled defender. Despite a terrible World Cup, Silva has had a good start to the season alongside his national team partner David Luiz. Silva’s leadership has been crucial for PSG this season and it will continue to play a key part while he tries to keep Diego Costa at bay. Diego Costa is probably the most in form striker in the world at the moment. He is currently second in the scoring charts in the Premier League and his partnership with Fabregas has played a key part in Chelsea’s excellent start to the season. Costa’s physicality, technique and finishing ability will be Silva’s biggest test of the season.