Return of unpredictable David Luiz to Stamford Bridge
11 March ~ Last spring, in the final minute of a Champions League quarter-final, a Paris Saint-Germain fan knocked out the team he supports with a goal that went in off his shin. Good news for PSG – Demba Ba now scores his unlikely goals for Besiktaş, so this scenario will not be repeated at Stamford Bridge tonight.
For the second year in a row, Chelsea and PSG meet in the Champions League. Unlike last season, the visitors are clearly the underdogs after the 1-1 draw in Paris in the first leg. Yet there has been some renewed optimism in the air for PSG, whose performance in the first match was a bit overshadowed in the media by the racist incident involving Chelsea fans in the Paris Métro.
That they did not get the win they probably deserved is down to this side’s main characteristics: they create plenty of chances but are not clinical enough, a fault embodied by Edinson Cavani and not a good omen for a club that have not scored in five previous European appearances in England.
That was also demonstrated in two recent matches with “Emirates Stadium heroes from Monaco”, a goalless draw in the league and a 2-0 win in the last eight of the cup. PSG dominated both matches thanks to playmaker Javier Pastore. The Argentinian, whom team-mate Yohan Cabaye said he would "pay to see play”, will very probably start in London at the expense of his fellow countryman Ezequiel Lavezzi. He proved decisive this weekend with one assist and one brilliant goal in a 4-1 win over Lens; PSG are currently second in Ligue 1, one point behind leaders Lyon.
Today will mark the return of David Luiz to Stamford Bridge. In the last two domestic games he's played as a central defender and scored twice from set pieces but PSG coach Laurent Blanc may opt to use him as a defensive midfielder against his old club. He made an impact in that role in the first leg, at least in terms of the physical presence if not ball control. If Blanc wants better ball control and passing in midfield, he will prefer Thiago Motta.
Since his arrival, Luiz has caused mixed feelings among the fans. One part loves him for his fighting spirit, like the season ticket holder one row above me who always calls him “Monsieur Luiz”. The other part is alarmed when he deserts his position to launch a solo raid into the opponent’s half. Recently, a man sitting next to me spent his time cursing the reckless clearing shots of the Brazilian Sideshow Bob. Exasperated, he ended up telling his young son: “This guy is mental.” Matthieu Richard