Top five conclusions: Chelsea 2-0 Paris Saint Germain
1. Jose knows the luxury of a dependable defence
When Jose Mourinho described the three plans he had for the game, he did not mention much about his defence because they require much less consideration. He had contingencies should an injury or something were to happen to his back five but the focus of his plans involves the forward positions because he could afford to depend on his back five.
Players like Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Moura have different strengths and they usually score, but they were contained by Chelsea’s defence. That gave Mourinho’s forward players an easier job of looking for two goals.
2. Laurent Blanc got his tactics wrong
The PSG boss clearly came to Stamford Bridge with the aim of protecting his 3-1 advantage. It was an understandable plan but it wass too risky.
Blanc needed a well-worked way to get an away goal but based on Paris Saint Germain’s performances, he didn’t have that. The only player who consistently tried to attack Chelsea was Moura; Cavani and Lavezzi spent a lot of time dropping into midfield to get to the ball when they could have been patient and stayed up front to provide their team with an attacking outlet on the break.
3. Chelsea should fancy their chances now
PSG may not have been the bookmakers’ favourite to win the Champions League but they were a difficult opponent for Chelsea because they have invested a lot of money into their squad and now have a lot of individually brilliant match-winners.
Teams like Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid may be better than PSG but they are easy to prepare for tactically because they already have their identity. They may rely on couple of special players but they are easier to read than PSG. In the first game, Javier Pastore came from the bench and changed the outcome of that encounter.
Like PSG, Chelsea also benefited at Stamford Bridge when Schurrle came in for Hazard. PSG had a well prepared plan to neutralise Eden Hazard’s threat that actually seemed to be working before the Belgian got injured and was replaced. His German replacement posed a different kind of threat and he influenced the game.
Chelsea may have a more experienced opponent in the semi-finals but they will at least know exactly what they need to do to stop that team.
4. PSG are developing despite successive quarter-final exits
Last season, PSG also agonisingly bowed out of the quarter-finals and the heavy investment from their owners seems to have little benefit as far as PSG’s progress in the Champions League is concerned.
But the French club should value the experience they keep getting by featuring at this level of the tournament. Chelsea had similarly frustrating experiences before they won their first Champions League. Winning the Champions League is not just about spending a lot of money, it takes patience and consistency. Just ask Manchester City.
5. It was deja vu for Lavezzi and Cavani
Cavani and Lavezzi came to Stamford Bridge with a 3-1 aggregate advantage with Napoli in 2012. That special night began to go against them around the 30th minute when Didier Drogba scored. This time it was Schurrle who scored in the 32nd minute.
The PSG pair must be sick of west London.