Paris Saint-Germain successfully took down a giant in the last round of the Champions League, shocking Chelsea and sending the Blues home with much less than they were aiming for.
With that victory over Chelsea, Laurent Blanc’s job is likely secure as the French club’s foreign owners target European success above all other triumphs. Unfortunately, the new goal of breaking down the quarterfinal brick wall is suddenly looking a loftier goal than anticipated.
Those European goals met their newest challenge in the most ironic of ways, as the Parisians won a monumental league battle with Le Clasique foes Marseille 3-2 on Sunday, but lost a pair of vital players in the process. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marco Verratti already suspended for the first leg of the quarterfinal matchup against Barcelona to begin next week, PSG has been forced to rule out both David Luiz and Thiago Motta from the first leg as well, with Luiz set to miss the whole thing.
The Brazilian central defender and former Chelsea star was subbed off in the 34th minute of the Marseille win a hamstring tear, and he has been ruled out for an entire month. Meanwhile, Thiago Motta completed the 90 minutes but has been sidelined for 10 days with a lesser hamstring problem, but that can always be extended should it not heal properly.
PSG has proven it can win without its stars this season, including Le Clasique without Luiz for the final hour, but this test will be unlike any other. Barcelona is in flying form, and the miss of three vital players is difficult to overcome. Young Marquinhos is the likely candidate to replace Luiz, as he shifted from right-back into the middle at the time of Luiz’s injury with Gregory van der Wiel coming on. Another natural option could be 36-year-old Zoumana Camara. Yohan Cabaye could be the man to deputize for the injured Motta, potentially a pivotal moment in his PSG career. Should 20-year-old Adrien Rabiot get the nod instead, it could signal the end of Cabaye’s career in the French capital.
Blanc and PSG fell in the Champions League quarterfinal round last season to Chelsea, so while the win over the Blues this season is a famous victory indeed, the Parisians will need to upset Barcelona this year if the club wishes to improve on last season’s hard results.