Chelsea head to Paris on Tuesday with the reigning Premier League champions looking to save their season by making a run at the UEFA Champions League.
[ MORE: UCL last 16 mega-preview ]
For the first leg of their UCL last 16 clash, revenge will be in the Parisian air as far as the Blues are concerned as they face Paris Saint-Germain for the third consecutive season and last year Les Parisiens knocked out favorites Chelsea in dramatic fashion in extra time.
Fast-forward 12 months and heading into this game the runaway leaders of France’s top-flight are the clear favorites with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Co. ready to wreck havoc against a banged-up Chelsea squad. A season-ending knee injury to Kurt Zouma meant interim boss Guus Hiddink was already down a center back and the news that John Terry hasn’t traveled to Paris as he recovers from a minor hamstring and ligament injury leaves the Blues down to their bare bones in defense.
The good news is that Oscar has recovered and should play some part but Nemanja Matic is suspended, while Alexandre Pato didn’t travel as he works on his fitness. Striker Loic Remy is also far from fully fit but he should be on the bench. For the biggest game of their season Chelsea can patch together a very solid starting XI but the bench looks incredibly inexperienced with four youngsters set to be included.
Below is my suggested starting lineup for the Blues, as well as selecting the seven men on the bench.
Note: U.S national team fans, don’t freak out but due to injuries to Terry and Zouma, it will be a straight shot between new signing Matt Miazga and academy product Jake Clarke-Salter for a spot on the bench as defense cover. My money is on Miazga as he’s slightly more experienced. And I mean slightly.
Chelsea’s starting XI vs. PSG
—– Courtois —–
— Azpilicueta — Ivanovic — Cahill — Rahman —
—– Mikel — Fabregas —–
—– Costa —–
Subs: Begovic, Miazga, Loftus-Cheek, Oscar, Traore, Kenedy, Remy