CHELSEA boss Jose Mourinho has labelled Paris Saint-Germain the most physical side the Blues have faced this season ahead of their Champions League last-16 second-leg showdown at Stamford Bridge tonight.
Mourinho was irked by the Ligue 1 outfit’s persistent fouling in the first leg in the French capital, which ended 1-1 after a second-half strike from Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani cancelled out Branislav Ivanovic’s opener.
Chelsea and Mourinho have done battle with teams from across the footballing spectrum this term, although the Portuguese insists the expensively-assembled Parisians have the edge in terms of combativeness.
“This season we have played teams from the Championship, League One and League Two in the cups, but the most aggressive team was PSG,” said Mourinho. “For a team with so much quality I expected more football than aggression.
“I have to be fair that I thought an English team would never be surprised by aggression. Of course, aggression we have in our country. But in that game I was surprised. A team with fantastic players was the team making foul after foul.
“PSG were the team that stopped Eden Hazard with fouls all the time, the team that was attacking the man in possession of the ball with two or three players very aggressively.”
Belgium stopper Thibaut Courtois was the busier of the two keepers in the second period at Parc des Princes as PSG surged back into contention, although Chelsea retain the advantage of a crucial away goal.
“What is dominate? If dominate is the number of chances, yes, Paris had more chances than us,” added Mourinho. “If dominate is to stop the opponent to play, making foul after foul, yes, they also dominate.
“If dominate is to have the ball and to move the ball without progression, yes, they also dominate. I think they dominate in everything except in the result.”
Midfielder John Mikel Obi remains sidelined with a knee injury but Serbian Nemanja Matic returns from a two-game suspension, while he also picked up an ankle injury celebrating Chelsea’s Capital One Cup final victory over Tottenham at Wembley.
“I told him [Matic] that we won two very important matches [Capital One Cup final and Premier League clash against West Ham] without him. Maybe he’s not so important. He was laughing,” said Mourinho. “We’re happy that he’s back. He’s ready to play and he’s going to play.”
The game is a repeat of last season’s quarter-final tie which Chelsea won on away goals after overturning a 3-1 first-leg deficit courtesy of a late Demba Ba clincher. Talismanic Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was missing that night through injury and PSG manager Laurent Blanc believes the enigmatic frontman could prove crucial for a side currently enjoying a 14-match unbeaten streak.
“He’s someone who loves the big occasion,” said Blanc. “He’s a player who can score at any time, in any venue, against any opponent. I hope he shows that.”