Football: Chelsea are underdogs against PSG, says Hiddink

'Controlled' anger is necessary to reverse first-leg result, says shrewd Dutchman

LONDON • It is hard to imagine former boss Jose Mourinho ever calling Chelsea underdogs, but that is how successor Guus Hiddink has described them before their Champions League last-16 second-leg clash against Paris Saint-Germain today.

The French champions head to Stamford Bridge for the third successive season, having knocked Chelsea out at the same stage a year ago. They are again favourites according to Hiddink, following their 2-1 victory in the first leg in Paris on Feb 16.

The wily 69-year-old Dutchman may well be playing mind games, but he said: "We are not the favourites. We have regained confidence and have quality, but let's be very tough underdogs.

"We need to be angry in a controlled way on Wednesday, the players must be fully concentrated."

Chelsea's results have improved since Mourinho left in December, losing only once - at PSG - in 18 matches in all competitions.

A 1-0 win now will be enough to see them through on away goals. That is how they beat PSG in the quarter-finals two seasons ago and how PSG eliminated them last season.

Chelsea skipper John Terry in action against Newcastle United's airborne Fabricio Coloccini in their Premier League encounter on Feb 13. The Blues' skipper is injured but Diego Costa should be fit to play against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions
Chelsea skipper John Terry in action against Newcastle United's airborne Fabricio Coloccini in their Premier League encounter on Feb 13. The Blues' skipper is injured but Diego Costa should be fit to play against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League match at Stamford Bridge today. PSG won the first leg 2-1 in Paris on Feb 16. PHOTO: REUTERS

With the tie finely balanced, that could well be the outcome again.

Chelsea will almost certainly be without injured skipper John Terry but striker Diego Costa should be fit after missing Saturday's 1-1 draw with Stoke City with a minor tendon injury.

Former Chelsea defender David Luiz, who won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012 and scored for PSG at Stamford Bridge last season, told uefa.com he will always have an affection for Chelsea after spending three seasons there. But he was determined to see PSG knock them out.

"I'm ready for war, for the battle. I think things are looking good for us to qualify," Luiz said.

"I had some great moments there, but I am focused on my work, which is to play for PSG.

"Our game philosophy is to play - to keep possession, create opportunities to score goals. We have to stick to our philosophy, and we know that for now the result is in our favour."

PSG arrive on the back of some poor results after suffering their first Ligue 1 defeat in almost a year when they lost 1-2 at Olympique Lyonnais last weekend and drew 0-0 at home with Montpellier on Saturday.

Manager Laurent Blanc will probably have to replace key midfielder Marco Verratti with Argentinian playmaker Javier Pastore as Verratti has a recurring groin problem.

France midfielder Blaise Matuidi should be fit after recovering from a thigh injury, while Lucas is expected to start on the left flank of the attack instead of Edinson Cavani, who scored PSG's winning goal in Paris three weeks ago.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2016, with the headline 'Blues are underdogs against PSG: Hiddink'. Print Edition | Subscribe