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Hazard warning is for Chelsea in cross-Channel trip to Paris

| 02.04.2014

Since Chelsea beat PSG at the Parc des Princes almost 10 years ago in the 2004/05 group stage, they have failed to win on two subsequent visits to French teams in the Champions League.

Couple that stat with recent Premier League away defeats to bottom half teams Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, and it’s easy to see why Coral make Laurent Blanc’s Boys even-money favourites to win this quarter-final first leg. The Blues are in fact 16/5 outsiders for victory in Paris, with a draw priced at 9/4.

How this tie will pan out remains very much in the balance, though, as both PSG and Chelsea are 10/11 shots to qualify for the semi-finals, and equal 11/1 chances to win the Champions League. The hosts have lost three times all season and just one of those defeats was in Paris, against Montpellier in the French cup.

Punters could be forgiven for thinking PSG’s main man Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has broken the 40-goal barrier in all competitions, is likely to pose the most threat to Chelsea here. Granted, netting 10 times in seven Champions League outings is phenomenal, but the Sweden striker struggles against English opposition.

You may beg to differ with that assertion as Ibrahimovic helped himself to a four-goal haul for his country, including an award-winning overhead kick, when he last faced England. At club level, however, it is a different story.

Ibrahimovic has scored just three European goals against Premier League outfits in 15 attempts. Should punters still maintain the valid argument he has got better with age, take evens on him to net anytime, or 4/1 to grab the opener. He is the same price to win the Champions League Golden Boot.

What should concern Jose Mourinho more than a player he worked with at Inter Milan, is the wide pair in PSG’s front three. Uruguay attacker Edinson Cavani (four in six) and Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi (three in six) both boast better scoring rates when playing English sides, and have goals against the Blues to their names.

Blanc must keep Cavani sweet for a while longer, but the former Napoli frontman has hinted he is unhappy on the flank because of extra defensive responsibilities. “Playing in 4-4-2 was my vision of the team when I joined Paris,” he said. “It is one of the arguments that motivated me to sign.

“But [now], for a forward used to scoring, and which has to do defensive tasks, it is not easy. I am fine in Paris, but obviously there are things we have to talk about with the club, things we need to do in a different way.”

Playing as a winger or not, Cavani is a threat to Chelsea. Back him or Lavezzi at 7/4 to score anytime.

Fernando Torres looks set to continue leading the Blues line here in the absence of the injured Samuel Eto’o. His return when battling French outfits is a modest three in eight, and the best of any Chelsea player available. He is 2/1 to score in Paris anytime.

Eden Hazard, the Blues’ probable player of the season who has been linked with PSG, was hailed by Blanc in his pre-match press conference. “[Hazard] has made significant progress since arriving at Chelsea,” was his ringing endorsement of the Belgian.

Buttering Hazard up will not change the fact he scored the last time he played against the Parisians for Lille. Odds of 7/2 say he will find the target again here.

Mourinho has plenty on his plate to worry about, but his dependable old guard offer the best value, if punters think the Blues can get a result in this away leg. Frank Lampard has two in six outings against French teams, and is 11/2 to net here.

Chelsea club captain John Terry was on target in that previous Parc des Princes victory. Odds of 12/1 say he will snap up a chance at a set piece and score. A repeat result of 3-0 to the visitors is remote, however, at 55/1.



Jamie Clark

Athletics aficionado, die-hard snooker fan and Crystal Palace supporter Jamie has written for Coral since February 2014 after spells with Soccerlens and the Press Association as a digital journalist and copywriter. A former East Midlands sports correspondent and Bwin tipster, he is a graduate of both the University of York and University of Sheffield, with a Masters in web journalism from the latter.