Chelsea seek Napoli repeat

April 08, 2014 - 1:26:56 am
Chelsea’s Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic kicks a ball during a training session at Cobham, Southwest of London, yesterday.

LONDON: Chelsea will hope to draw inspiration from their 2012 Champions League triumph when they attempt to overturn a 3-1 deficit in their quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain today.

Javier Pastore’s 90th-minute solo goal in last week’s first leg at Parc des Princes gave PSG a two-goal advantage that put them firmly in control of the tie ahead of the second leg at Stamford Bridge.

Only 24 percent of the teams to have lost 3-1 in the away leg of a UEFA tie since 1970 have gone on to reach the next round, but Chelsea can take heart from the fact that they pulled off just such a feat two years ago.

A 3-1 defeat at Napoli in the last 16 precipitated the sacking of coach Andre Villas-Boas, but his successor, Roberto Di Matteo, oversaw a 4-1 win after extra time in the return leg, before leading the west London club to victory on penalties over Bayern Munich in the final.

Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho has never lost a European quarter-final, and defeat by PSG would be doubly difficult for the Portuguese to swallow in the light of Di Matteo’s achievement in 2012 and last year’s Europa League success under interim manager Rafael Benitez.

Furthermore, with Chelsea’s Premier League title challenge wobbling, success in the Champions League has taken on even greater importance.

Chelsea breezed to a 3-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday, briefly taking them back to the top of the table, but Mourinho insists that their position is “fake” due to the fact that rivals Manchester City still have two games in hand. He is nevertheless relishing the prospect of Tuesday’s game beneath the lights in west London, declaring that his side can approach the match “without fear”.

“I want to enjoy that game. I enjoy the difficulty,” Mourinho said. “Now we know that we need to win 2-0, 3-1, 4-1, 5-2. We know that we need a crazy result against Paris. We must be ready to go without fear, go at them, and see what happens. “If we have to lose after a magnificent night of football, a magnificent night of emotion, we have to lose.”

Chelsea have kept eight consecutive clean sheets at Stamford Bridge, but PSG are on a club-record run of 11 successive wins and have lost by two clear goals only once in their last 110 fixtures.

AFP

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