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Mourinho tries to solve PSG puzzle

Chelsea manager needs goals but is short on strikers as his team tries to overturn first-leg defeat in Champions League.

Last updated: 07 Apr 2014 23:44
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Eto'o trained on his own on Monday as he tries to recover from a hamstring injury [EPA]

Chelsea's attempt to beat Paris Saint-Germain without any strikers last week may not have worked out too well but Jose Mourinho could have little choice but to try the same again as he fights to get his team into the Champions League semi-finals.

The Londoners go into the quarter-final second leg 3-1 down to the French champions, with just Eden Hazard's penalty at the Parc des Princes giving them hope.

Strikes from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore either side of an own goal by David Luiz gave the first leg the appearance of a hammering, and Chelsea – European champions in 2012 under Roberto di Matteo – need at least a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge thanks to Hazard's away goal.

How Mourinho will go about getting those goals is another matter.

German winger Andre Schurrle started up front in Paris and may do so again if he recovers from a bruised toe he received against Stoke at the weekend.

The 23-year-old was praised by Mourinho for his contribution in the first leg, with PSG's clinching goals coming after he was brought off for Fernando Torres.

Blanc canvas

Mourinho, twice a Champions League winner, said that opposite number Laurent Blanc's statement that PSG would attack Chelsea from kickoff could end up meaning anything in reality.

"They can say they come to attack, but maybe they don't cross the midfield line," he said.

They can say they come to attack, but maybe they don't cross the midfield line. Maybe they say they come to defend and they find spaces and they score goals, you don't know. The only thing that I know is that if we don't score a minimum of two goals we have no chance.

Jose Mourinho, Chelsea manager

"Maybe they say they come to defend and they find spaces and they score goals, you don't know. The only thing that I know is that if we don't score a minimum of two goals we have no chance."

Neither Torres nor Demba Ba are finding favour with Mourinho, having found the net just 14 times between them in the Premier League and Champions League this season.

The Portuguese manager has been explicit in his view that Samuel Eto'o is the only out-and-out striker he places any great faith in, but the Cameroonian has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since March 22 and may not make the team.

Fortunately Chelsea have plenty of firepower in midfield, with Hazard leading the charts with 14 in all competitions, and the 3-0 win over Stoke coming with all goals scored from midfield.

If Paris Saint-Germain had any concerns over their own strikeforce since the injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the first leg, those appear to have been dispelled.

Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi has divided opinion in the west of Paris this season despite his goals helping the team to their first quarter-final since 1995 in last year's Champions League.

But his well-taken half-volley got PSG off to the perfect start at the Parc, while Cavani has exploded back onto the scene since returning from an injury layoff and has an understanding with Lavezzi, having played together at Napoli.

The Uruguayan scored the first goal in the Parisians' 3-1 win over Reims on Saturday, after moving from his usual wide position to compensate for Ibrahimovic's absence.

"I don't feel any pressure, I used to play in the centre-forward position and it is the one where I feel the best," he said after that game.

"But now it is a bit special because I'm replacing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and he was doing really well in that position until now. So it is a great responsibility to me."

Real dip

The night's other match should be more of a stroll, despite Real Madrid's dip in form that saw them lose two in a row – starting with last month's El Clasico defeat to Barcelona – and relinquish top spot in La Liga.

Cristiano Ronaldo, with a record-equalling 14 goals in the Champions League this season, will be fit as Carlo Ancelotti's team take a 3-0 lead to the Westfalenstadion against last year's losing finalists, Borussia Dortmund.

The Portugal captain made his 100th Champions League appearance in the first leg at the Bernabeu and his goal matched Lionel Messi's single-season record set in 2011/12.

Dortmund did defeat Real in the semi-finals last season and coach Jurgen Klopp said they would take confidence from the weekend's domestic duties, when a win over Wolfsburg left them in the driving seat for qualification to Europe's top table again next season.

"Had we lost we would have had to surrender to the murderous pressure," said Klopp, who has top-scorer Robert Lewandowski available after the Munich-bound Pole was suspended for the first leg.

"It was important to win and go into Tuesday's game with a good feeling.

"We will not give anything away for free. We want to have two good halves on Tuesday and then we can see what comes out of it."

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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