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Predicted Chelsea lineup against PSG: Massive test for makeshift defense; Hazard the wild card

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It seems only fitting for this wretched season that just as confidence, consistence, and good results seem to be returning to Chelsea, the injuries are starting to hit as well.

While backup strikers Radamel Falcao and, to a lesser extent, Loic Remy have had their fair share of injuries all along, their absences have not been too keenly felt thanks to the good health of everyone else.  (And thanks to our mostly bad results, which have taken the focus off everything else, too.)  But now, Kurt Zouma and John Terry, our first-choice center back pairing, are both out of action, just in time for our biggest match of the season (so far).  Then again, some of our most memorable nights in Europe have come under even harsher circumstances.

So, to make it 13 matches in-a-row unbeaten since the sacking of Mourinho, we'll have to do it with a makeshift defense.  Courtois will be in goal of course, but ahead of him, the back four will be rather unfamiliar.  Branislav Ivanovic will make his first start at center back in almost two years, alongside his partner from the 2013 Europa League final, Gary Cahill.  Cesar Azpilicueta will make a rare start at right back (just his sixth all season, and first since November), while young Baba Rahman gets his biggest test as a Chelsea player on the left, going up against either Lucas Moura or Angel Di Maria.  Baba once earned rave reviews for his performance against Bayern Munich (albeit a Bayern down to 10-men and with the league title already wrapped up); we'll need that kid to show up on Tuesday.

The defense's task will be made tougher by the absence of Nemanja Matic, suspended for yellow card accumulation, which means that the defensively less sound duo of Mikel and Fabregas will fill the midfield to the best of their ability.  PSG's trio of Matuidi-Motta-Rabiot may be one of the best in Europe (even without Verratti), so our pivot will no doubt need plenty of help from the attacking band.  Which should mean starts for both Oscar and Willian, with Hazard and Costa tasked with hoping for the best in what is sure to be a meager supply of goalscoring chances.  Pedro could conceivably start ahead of Hazard for even more defensive wing-play, but I think we'll place the responsibility on last year's Player of the Season to come up with the goods.  It's only fitting.

While there will be plenty of European experience still in the starting lineup, our bench will likely have a very youthful look to it.  Cover your eyes.

4-2-3-1:
Courtois | Baba, Cahill, Ivanovic, Azpilicueta | Mikel, Fabregas | Hazard, Oscar, Willian | Costa

The community's armchair managers agree.  Barring any sort of Ryan-Bertrand-left-winger shenanigans, this is the lineup we'll be seeing tomorrow.

4-2-3-1:
Courtois | Baba, Cahill, Ivanovic, Azpilicueta | Mikel, Fabregas | Hazard, Oscar, Willian | Costa