One thing's for certain, just like last year, there will be Twitter shenanigans.
With PSG clearly determined to write "a different story," Chelsea will have to find a new set of heroes. While Zlatan and Co. are largely unchanged -- David Luiz the only major summer signing -- Chelsea have re-balanced and re-tooled key areas of the team in the last 10 months.
Second-leg heroes (Dare-To-)Demba Ba and André Schürrle may be both gone, but in their stead we possess further wealth of European experience. And excellence. Meanwhile, the midfield is no longer a crapshoot. The strikers are reliable and produce goals expectedly and at a regular clip rather than unexpectedly and only when the stars and the moons and the alien starships align. Eden Hazard has raised his game. Even Willian's contributing directly to the scoresheet as of late. The defense is still solid and whoever plays goalkeeper, he will have at least one Champions League final to his name.
So, Chelsea all the way, right? If only it were that easy...
Date / Time: Tuesday, February 17, 2015, 19:45 GMT; 2:45pm EST; 1:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Parc des Princes, Paris, France
Referee: Cüneyt Çakir (Turkey) -- Regardless of what Mr. Çakir does the rest of his professional career, he will always be remembered as the man who refereed our most amazing 2-2 draw ever in Barcelona. Which is good, because since then he's seen us lose 3-0 to Juventus in Roberto Di Matteo's final game in charge and then lose 1-0 to Corinthians in the final of the Club World Cup. Time to put an end to that losing streak, methinks.
Forecast: Cloudy but dry, with temperatures dipping towards freezing.
On TV: ITV 1 (UK); Fox Sports 1, Fox Soccer Plus, ESPN Deportes (USA); Ten HD / Action (India); elsewhere
Online: Sky Go (UK); Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer 2Go, Watch ESPN (USA); Ten Sports LIVE (India)
PSG team news: The not quite major but certainly not minor injury crisis facing the hosts has been front-page news since the weekend. The latest update puts three out for sure (Lucas Moura, Serge Aurier, Yohan Cabaye), while three more are somewhere between doubtful and probable (Blaise Matuidi, Thiago Motta, Marquinhos). The status of the second set of three could go a long ways towards determining who walks away with a result in the first leg. Javier Pastore is a minor doubt as well, having just recovered from injury and probably still lacking a bit of match fitness.
PSG have struggled to replicate their domestic dominance of the past two seasons, and are currently locked in a fierce three-way battle for the top with Lyon and Marseille. Some blame injuries, others blame manager Laurent Blanc; the real culprit is probably a combination of many factors. Their Champions League campaign got off to a rocky start as well with a draw away to Ajax, but three home wins (including over Barcelona) and a job-done in Cyprus against APOEL ensured a second place finish in the group stages.
Adding insult to their injuries was the result this weekend, which went a little something like this:
Oopsies. One Caen hardly believe it! That's definitely NOT how you park the bus, friends. That being said, PSG are unbeaten at home in all competitions this season (13 wins, 4 draws).
Chelsea team news: John Obi Mikel remains out with a knee injury and did not travel with the squad. Neither did Izzy Brown who stayed in England to help the Chelsea U18s progress to the FA Youth Cup semifinal with a 3-0 win at Newcastle. (Congrats!)
Further depleting the 22-man squad is Fàbregas's illness, and potentially lingering injuries to Filipe Luís and Oscar. On the plus side, Diego Costa's back (not that his domestic suspension would've applied for European matches anyway) and unlike last year, this time we get to use Nemanja Matić, too! Which is a bit like getting to play midfield without one of our feet tied behind our backs.
The Blues arrive on the back of a four-match unbeaten streak, with three one-goal victories and a 1-1 draw to our name since the Bradford City debacle. Chelsea haven't lost away from home in Europe since last season's visit to Paris, which remains our one and only loss to PSG in four tries.
Previously: In case you need reminding...