Chelsea v PSG Tonight: Stamford Bridge, 7.30pm TV: RTE 2, Sky Sports 5
Paris St Germain boss Laurent Blanc has called for calm in the anticipated cauldron of Stamford Bridge as his side bid to oust Chelsea in tonight’s Champions League last-16 second leg.
On the eve of the first leg three weeks ago, Blanc spoke of Jose Mourinho being the arch provocateur and called for his players to keep their composure.
Now the PSG coach has warned of striker Diego Costa’s combative nature and the need for his side to balance risk-taking with being difficult to beat in a tie finely poised at 1-1.
“He likes contact, and provokes opposition players. That’s part of his game. He thrives off that,” Blanc said of Costa.
“He really needs that to bring out the best in his performances.
“The most important thing is to not get caught up in the way he plays.
“He will try to provoke a reaction. We need to stay calm, not get caught up in his game. We need to be as effective as possible in stopping him.
“It’s up to us to try to take some risks, but not lose our heads and take unnecessary risks.
“Paris St Germain need to stand up and be counted. We also need to stay in the game. That’s the difficulty. Yes, we need to attack, yes, we need to create chances, but we also need to stay solid.”
The French club, eliminated on away goals at Stamford Bridge last term when they let a 3-1 first-leg advantage slip, must score to advance to the quarter-finals for a third straight season.
Blanc avoided talk of revenge after Demba Ba’s heroics last term — the striker’s last-gasp goal earned Chelsea progress to the semi-finals — and called for his side to take their chances.
The PSG boss said: “Chelsea have a slight advantage, because they were able to score an away goal. It’s up to us to try to do what Chelsea did in Paris.
“One of Chelsea’s main threats is the fact they’re very good on the counter attack, so I don’t think we should go gung ho. We have to attack and we need to score a goal, regardless of whether Chelsea get one or not.
“I hope we do better than Chelsea did in the first leg. Chelsea created only one chance and they scored from that. I hope we create more than one chance.”
Blanc hopes Thibaut Courtois is busy, but beaten, in Chelsea’s goal.
Blanc added: “Their goalkeeper’s performance was what allowed them to start as slight favourites going into the second leg. Over the 90 minutes PSG played better than Chelsea.
“If we create chances tomorrow night and he plays very well again that will prove that PSG have once again been better than Chelsea.
“He was very good in the first leg and I hope he’s not as good tomorrow night.”
For all the millions they have spent — including paying £50m (€70m) to Chelsea for David Luiz — PSG are still to break into Europe’s elite.
Blanc believes it will take time.
“It’s very easy to talk about, it’s less easy to go out and do it,” Blanc said.
“In order to progress as a club you need experience. Paris St Germain have got a little bit more experience, but we’re still a long way off having the same levels of experience as Chelsea.
“Chelsea took a long while to become one of the best sides in Europe. They also invested a lot of money to get there.
“We need to be patient.
“In order to become one of the top four or top six sides in Europe it does take time. We’ve started that process.”
One notable difference this season over last is that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is available to Blanc.
The Sweden striker was injured last term, but will come up against Chelsea captain John Terry and either Gary Cahill or Kurt Zouma.
“I don’t think those two players (Cahill and Zouma) are going to be happy about facing Zlatan,” Blanc said.
“He’s someone who loves the big occasion. He’s a player who can score at any time, in any venue, against any opponent.
“I hope he shows that tomorrow night.”
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