LONDON – Chelsea’s draw with Paris St-Germain leaves the Champions League last-16 tie finely poised ahead of the second leg at Stamford Bridge on 11 March.
But what have we learned about Jose Mourinho and his team from the 1-1 draw at the Parc des Princes?
Thibaut Courtois is pure class
PSG had 14 shots on goal, seven of which were on target but only Edinson Cavani’s second-half header was enough to beat Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian was preferred to Petr Cech and rewarded his manager by producing fine saves to deny Zlatan Ibrahimovic on three occasions as well as keeping out headers from Blaise Matuidi and Cavani in the first half.
Jose Mourinho: “I try to read the situation. I try to predict the profile of the game, the reality is that it is easy, they are both phenomenal goalkeepers. If football was nine players plus two goalkeepers we would be on the moon.”
Branislav Ivanovic: “Thibaut Courtois made amazing saves At the moment we don’t know which of our goalkeepers [is the best] – they are both fantastic and it is a great feeling to have someone behind you who is doing something special.”
David Luiz: “Without their goalkeeper, we would have won this game. He was great.
John Terry: “He was different class. When you look at Petr in the week, he made two great saves from [Everton’s Romelu] Lukaku to win us three points. Thibaut came back in and the competition is great and it is fierce among the squad. That’s what is needed.”
Gary Cahill was chosen to partner John Terry instead of Kurt Zouma and, while Cahill and Terry combined to set up Branislav Ivanovic’s opening goal, their marking was questionable for Cavani’s equaliser.
BBC pundit and Former England defender Phil Neville on Radio 5 live: “I’m a fan of Gary Cahill and he’s the best centre-back in the England team – but he’s been left out for recent high-profile games against Manchester City and Liverpool and there was hesitancy and doubt in his mind tonight. There were moments when a confident Cahill would have won the ball.
He’s feeling the pressure of Kurt Zouma, because John Terry’s form is not dropping.
“It’s between Cahill and Zouma as to who will partner Terry.
“I think Cahill will start the return leg. Kurt Zouma has been playing well but he’s not the finished article. Mourinho will pick games for Zouma and I don’t think the Champions League quarter-final is the right game to blood a young centre-back.
“I’ve been a senior player with youngsters coming in, and you can definitely feel the pressure. These youngsters aren’t getting level, they’re rising above you and getting better. It’s difficult to deal with – you feel secure in the team and then all of a sudden you have to raise your game and find a way to improve your own performance.”
Despite having Didier Drogba, Loic Remy and Â£23.3m signing Juan Cuadrado available, Mourinho chose to start four of five players he said were not fully fit. Willian, Ivanovic, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas all made the starting line-up while Oscar came on as late substitute despite the Portuguese coach claiming they had not trained.
Mourinho said: “Sometimes people speak about the players when they are injured and do not play. There are injured players who play, they don’t train to play. I had five players in this game who did not train since Everton. We felt that a little.”
Ivanovic’s goal was his first in Europe since the Europa League final over Benfica in 2013.
He has 29 goals in 298 Chelsea games in all competitions since joining from Lokomotiv Moscow in January 2008.
He scored the winner in their League Cup semi-final win over Liverpool and in their Premier League triumph at Aston Villa on 7 February.
He now has five goals this season but his most prolific campaign was in 2012-13 when he scored nine.
Chelsea captain John Terry said: “Branislav Ivanovic has been different class defensively this year and always has been. Attacking he always poses a great threat.”
Mourinho said: “It’s good to have two or three players who are not expected to score. He chooses the right moment to do it.”
With David Luiz anchoring midfield, Blaise Matuidi was free to stride forward and the France international caused Chelsea a host of problems. Matuidi saw a header saved by Courtois in the first half before providing the assist for Cavani’s goal. Matuidi created four chances in the match – more than any other player.
Former Manchester United coach Phil Neville, who worked as a coach under previous manager David Moyes, said: “Our reports were that we wanted to sign him.
“He had a contract situation at PSG, we heard that his contract was maybe running out and we were really interested in him. Then he signed a contract with PSG, which was not something we were happy with.
“We were looking for something to inject a bit of energy, Matuidi runs from box to box, he carried the team forward against Chelsea, purely with his energy.
“Last January we had heard his contract was running out and wanted to leave. I think what he wanted was a big contract and he got that.” – BBC Sport