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Injury-hit PSG face Chelsea in last 16

By Agencies - Feb 17,2015 - Last updated at Feb 17,2015

PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc is out to save his reputation in the Champions League.

Last season, Blanc was criticised for his cautious tactics against Chelsea in the second leg of the quarter-finals despite holding a 3-1 lead from the first match. On Tuesday, he will get another chance to advance.

Injury crisis

Blanc is waiting on the fitness of midfielder Blaise Matuidi after injuries decimated his side last weekend.

Midfielder Yohan Cabaye, winger Lucas, centre half Lucas and right back Sergie Aurier all limped off injured in Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with Caen and have been ruled out.

“Everyone could have done well without all of these injuries,” Blanc said. “It’s a big blow for us but we have to cope with it.”

Matuidi is rated as doubtful after taking a blow to his knee and, with Lucas out, Blanc needs Javier Pastore to shake off a thigh injury.

The Argentine was PSG’s best player when they beat Chelsea 3-1 in the home leg of the Champions League quarter-finals last season.

Coasting with Costa

Chelsea forward Eden Hazard finds it much easier to combine with Diego Costa than he did with Fernando Torres, Costa’s predecessor in attack.

Costa’s 17 league goals in 19 games have helped propel Chelsea to the top of the Premier League. Torres, by comparison, scored only 20 league goals in 110 games.

Hazard thinks only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are in the same bracket as Costa.

“He is one of the best three strikers in the world,” Hazard said on French TV show Telefoot.  


Defender David Luiz, while playing for Chelsea in last season’s quarter-finals, scored one for Paris Saint-Germain with an own-goal.

The Brazilian joined PSG from Chelsea during the offseason in a deal worth 50 million euros ($57 million) and has started to look more assured in recent weeks after a difficult settling-in period.

The 27-year-old Luiz played for Chelsea from 2010-14, scoring 12 goals in 143 appearances, mostly as a defender and sometimes as a rampaging midfielder.

Luiz recently revealed that he turned down the offer of a new Chelsea contract because he felt coach Jose Mourinho did not try hard enough to keep him.

Rabiot ready 

Paris Saint-Germain’s midfield faces a tough test against Chelsea, and the task could be made even harder without Matuidi.

If Matuidi fails to recover from his injury, coach Blanc will have to turn to 19-year-old Adrien Rabiot — who was linked with a move away from the club throughout the summer and winter transfer windows.

Rabiot has only a handful of Champions League appearances, and lack of experience could be exposed by a Chelsea midfield led by Cesc Fabregas and featuring the lightning-quick feet of Oscar.

Hooligan menace 

Matches between the clubs have led to serious outbreaks of violence on Chelsea’s two previous visits to Paris.

Police will be on alert around Gare du Nord train station — where the Eurostar arrives from London — and in other areas around the capital.

A heavy police presence for last year’s quarter-final match did not prevent trouble, however, with hooligans from PSG fighting with their Chelsea counterparts in the Chatelet area of central Paris.

More than 100 thugs threw glasses and other objects at each other and then clashed in the street, sending shoppers scattering for cover.

There was serious disorder involving even larger numbers close to the Parc des Princes when the clubs met in the group stage of the Champions League in 2004.

Bayern dress rehearsal 

Bayern Munich are confident they have returned to top form just in time for their Champions League round of 16 first leg against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday after their biggest Bundesliga win in 31 years on Saturday.

The German champions’ dress rehearsal ahead of the trip to Ukraine was a resounding success as they demolished Hamburg SV 8-0 in a flawless performance that saw Dutchman Arjen Robben continue his impressive form by scoring two goals.

Victory for Bayern, who had won just one of the previous three league games before Saturday’s drubbing of Hamburg, delighted coach Pep Guardiola after his side made a stuttering return from the winter break.

“Now we can focus on our first Champions League game this year. I am happy that our playing style is back,” the Spaniard said. “Obviously the mood in the team is now much better.”

Guardiola will recall midfielder Xabi Alonso for the game in Lviv after he was rested on Saturday, while winger Franck Ribery and defender Rafinha are in contention after recovering from injuries in time to play against Hamburg.

Defender Jerome Boateng will also make the trip after sitting out a two-match ban in Germany. 

Winter break

Shakhtar, hosting Bayern in Lviv as their hometown is at the centre of a military conflict, would have wished for an easier challenge in their first competitive game after a two-month winter break.

However, Shakhtar, who are looking for their first home win against a German side for over 35 years, filled their lack of domestic action by training in Brazil in January.

Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano, who netted nine times in the Champions League group stage, believes Shakhtar are well prepared for the visit of Bayern.

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