Saturday 24 February 2018

10 reasons why Chelsea can still reach the Champions League semi-finals

Chelsea have to turn around a 3-1 first leg deficit
Chelsea have to turn around a 3-1 first leg deficit

Nick Brumsack

Chelsea are outsiders to reach the last four of the Champions League after Paris St-Germain beat them 3-1 in the first leg of their quarter-final meeting in Paris last Wednesday.

The French champions were the better side at Parc des Princes, with Javier Pastore's late third goal giving Laurent Blanc's side a potentially decisive advantage in the tie.

Jose Mourinhho has been saying that the task facing his side at Stamford Bridge is "almost the impossible job."

But Chelsea have overturned enough European deficits in recent years to believe that they can still reach the semi-finals of the competition for the seventh time in 11 years.

Here, we take a look at the reasons to be less like Mourinho and more optimistic...

1. Mourinho doesn't lose in the last eight

Jose Mourinho believes his side will bounce back against PSG

The Portuguese has lost none of the eight European two-legged quarter-final ties he has managed in. On three of those occasions, Mourinho's teams went all the way, winning the Uefa Cup with Porto in 2003 and adding the Champions League a year later. He won the European Cup for the second time while at Inter Milan in 2010.

2. Chelsea's home record

The Blues have won 11 of their last 13 home Champions League games - with their only defeat coming at home to FC Basel in this year's competition. Chelsea average almost three goals a game over that period - they need to score at least twice on Tuesday night to have any chance of progressing.

3. Samuel Eto'o might be back

Samuel Eto'o, right, started Chelsea's rout

Chelsea have missed the Cameroonian striker since he strained his hamstring against Arsenal - winning only one of their next three games. Eto'o is Chelsea's joint top scorer in the Champions League this season and has won the tournament three times. He could play a role at Stamford Bridge after taking part in training on Monday morning.

4. They have done it before

In 2012, Chelsea looked to be on their way out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage after a 3-1 loss against an Ezequiel Lavezzi-inspired Napoli in Italy. But they turned the tie around in the return leg, Branislav Ivanovic's extra-time winner ensuring a thrilling 4-1 victory and a place in the quarter-finals. Chelsea went on to win the Champions League that season and won the Europa League the next year - overturning another first-leg defeat, this time against Steaua Bucharest, en route to the final.

5. French teams struggle to score in SW6

All but one of Chelsea's last five home matches against French opposition have yielded clean sheets. The exception was AS Monaco, who drew 2-2 at Stamford Bridge in 2004 - a result which secured a place in the final, where they were beaten by Mourinho's Porto.

6. And Chelsea rarely concede

Javier Hernandez was the last opposition player to score at Stamford Bridge - and that was in mid-January. Since then, Chelsea have kept eight clean sheets in all competitions at home, going over 12 hours without conceding a goal.

7. Zlatan is injured

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Ibrahimovic may have been quiet in the first leg but the Swede has enjoyed an extremely productive season so far, scoring 40 goals in all competitions. His absence will take away from PSG's attacking threat - though they do still have Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi in their ranks.

8. Chelsea do well when hosting French opposition

The Blues' last two home matches against teams from France have seen them score six goals and concede none. Chelsea have scored at least twice in three of their last five games against French sides at Stamford Bridge.

9. Blanc has lost at the Bridge before

The last time PSG manager Laurent Blanc visited SW6, while in charge of Bordeaux in 2008, Chelsea won 4-0, with Frank Lampard among the goals.

10. Chelsea are full of goals on their own patch

Eden Hazard netted his first Premier League hat-trick against Newcastle

The Blues may need to score twice to have any chance of going through but they can take confidence from the fact that they have scored at least two goals in 19 of their last 25 home matches in all competitions.

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