Chelsea 2-2 PSG (aet): Blanc continues with starting approach despite early red card

March 16, 2015

“Paris Saint-Germain adapted excellently after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s dismissal, and progressed on away goals courtesy of two headed goals from their centre-backs. The most surprising name on the Chelsea teamsheet was Oscar, who was preferred over his fellow Brazilian Willian. This hinted at Jose Mourinho’s preferred midfield format. In defence, Gary Cahill was selected instead of Kurt Zouma, who has recently impressed both in defence and midfield. Nemanja Matic was fit to return in the holding role.” Zonal Marking

Champions League: Chelsea lose ugly against Paris St-Germain

March 13, 2015

Chelsea v Paris St Germain - UEFA Champions League Second Round Second Leg
“Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has turned the trick of winning ugly into an art form – but there is no merit in losing ugly and that is exactly what his side did as Paris St-Germain deservedly dismissed them from the Champions League. As the cards stacked up against PSG, the need for an away goal piled on top of the harsh first-half dismissal of talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it was the Premier League leaders who cracked under pressure, a fact acknowledged by a despairing Mourinho in the aftermath. In a last-16 second leg that was dramatic and dreadful in equal measure, Chelsea made an undignified exit on away goals after a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge and a 3-3 aggregate result. It was an eyesore of a performance that also demonstrated the dark side of a fine team’s personality.” BBC

Lunacy in London: PSG Go Full OMG and Knock Chelsea Out of the Champions League
“Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain came into yesterday’s Round of 16 match notched at 1-all, with the London club holding the away-goals tiebreaker after the first leg. Thirty-one minutes into the game, PSG’s Swedish superhero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was given a questionable red card, and then Chelsea, propped up by a one-man advantage, strolled … into a thunderdome filled with UFC-level off-ball high jinks and Brazilian center backs with plutonium foreheads. The match went off the rails again and again and again, ultimately ending in a 2-2 extra-time draw, which sent the Parisians on to the next round. We’ve rounded up the most madcap moments from the midweek mania — but before we get to them, a quick word from Zlatan.” Grantland (Video)

Chelsea set a standard PSG’s still trying to achieve
“When, in 2011, Paris Saint-Germain became another club to win the lottery, there were a few examples to use as an indicator of its future. Manchester City, bought in 2008 by the Abu Dhabi United Group, has won two English Premier League titles, while Málaga, purchased by Abdulla Al Thani in 2010, had its ascent tempered by a near implosion. But it’s Chelsea, the first to undergo a similar overhaul, that has become the most powerful of them. One of the first clubs since the turn of the millennium to be bought by natural resources, Chelsea’s won Champions League, Europa, and England (three times) since Roman Abramovich became the club’s avatar. Chelsea and PSG might go into Wednesday’s Champions League tie with the scores level, but in other respects, Chelsea lead the French side by some distance.” Soccer Gods

Jose Mourinho: Chelsea will win Premier League title
“Chelsea will win the Premier League title this season, manager Jose Mourinho has predicted. The Blues were knocked out of the Champions League by Paris St-Germain in midweek but lead the top flight by five points with 11 games remaining.” BBC (Video)

UEFA: Chelsea 3-3 Paris St-Germain

Lille: Tactical Negativity and a View of the Future

March 11, 2015

“Despite the money spent at Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain last season, the story of the season at the winter break in Ligue 1 last year was surely Lille, who had conceded only eight goals to that point, buoyed by a remarkable run of eleven games without conceding. That run had come to an end in a Week 17 loss to Bordeaux, as an unlucky deflection found the back of Vincent Enyeama’s net and Les Dogues stumbled to a 1-0 defeat on the road.  Quickly righting the ship, a win against Bastia and a more than creditable draw at PSG left the northern side only a point behind Monaco and four behind the leaders at the break, a fine achievement in Rene Girard’s first few months in charge, especially considering the team had been stripped of much of its offensively minded talent in the summer, with the departures of Dimitri Payet, Florian Thauvin and Lucas Digne.” Outside of the Boot

Ranking the Top 10 Young Midfielders so far in 2014-15: Sterling moves up as Liverpool begin late season resurgence

March 6, 2015

“After another minor break, the Talent Radar Player Rankings return, with the men in the middle of the park the focus of our attentions. A lot has changed since the last time the rankings were out, Borussia Dortmund’s fall was only just starting, Liverpool were still in the Champions League and the Italian Serie A race actually looked interesting. While the rankings itself saw Marco Verratti on top, with a couple of challengers looking to dethrone him. Here’s who continue to impress us as we move into the business end of the football season.” Outside of the Boot

Tactical Analysis: PSV 1-3 Ajax | Ajax win despite PSV dominance

March 4, 2015

“Usually when the last ‘De Topper’ of the season is played, it’s often a title decider, but not this year. PSV came into the game with 14-point lead, and most pundits had already sent the title to Eindhoven before the game. Ajax knew if there should be even a little glimmer of hope, then they needed to claim all 3 points at the Phillips Stadium this Sunday. In a game dominated by PSV, Ajax managed to grab a 3-1 victory, and maybe put a little bit of doubt into the heads of the Eindhoven players.” Outside of the Boot

The quest for the Ligue 1 crown

February 25, 2015

“Ligue 1 only has 12/13 games left to decide a domestic champion, something that in the past two years was as easy a question to answer as whether the sky was blue. Paris Saint-Germain is the two time defending champions, a club that have won the last two French domestic titles by an average of 10.5 points. A club filled with stars amongst stars in Ligue 1 and Europe: Edinson Cavani, Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marco Verratti and more.” backpagefootball

Juventus must find a way to cope with Dortmund’s pressure

February 25, 2015

“The greatest aspect of top-level European competition is the opportunity to witness contrasting footballing styles face one another; pleasingly, despite the globalisation of football and the increased movement of players and coaches across borders, obvious differences remain between Europe’s best leagues. The obvious example from this week’s set of Champions League fixtures is the clash between Borussia Dortmund and Juventus in Turin on Tuesday night. Whereas some of the second round ties are frustratingly familiar — Manchester City vs. Barcelona, PSG vs. Chelsea, Schalke vs. Real Madrid — these two sides haven’t met since the European Cup final of 1997. The clash of styles should be fascinating.” ESPN – Michael Cox


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