Chelsea will hope to draw inspiration from their 2012 Champions League triumph when they attempt to overturn a 3-1 deficit in their quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.
Javier Pastore’s 90th-minute solo goal in last week’s first leg at Parc des Princes gave PSG a two-goal advantage that puts them firmly in control of the tie ahead of the second leg at Stamford Bridge.
Only 24 percent of the teams to have lost 3-1 in the away leg of a UEFA tie since 1970 have gone on to reach the next round, but Chelsea can take heart from the fact that they pulled off just such a feat two years ago.
A 3-1 defeat at Napoli in the last 16 precipitated the sacking of coach Andre Villas-Boas, but his successor, Roberto Di Matteo, oversaw a 4-1 win after extra time in the return leg, before leading the west London club to victory on penalties over Bayern Munich in the final.
Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho has never lost a European quarter-final, and defeat by PSG would be doubly difficult for the Portuguese to swallow in the light of Di Matteo’s achievement in 2012 and last year’s Europa League success under interim manager Rafael Benitez.
Furthermore, with Chelsea’s Premier League title challenge wobbling, success in the Champions League has taken on even greater importance.
Chelsea breezed to a 3-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday, briefly taking them back to the top of the table, but Mourinho insists that their position is “fake” due to the fact that rivals Manchester City still have two games in hand.
He is nevertheless relishing the prospect of Tuesday’s game beneath the lights in west London, declaring that his side can approach the match “without fear”.
“I want to enjoy that game. I enjoy the difficulty,” Mourinho said.
“Now we know that we need to win 2-0, 3-1, 4-1, 5-2. We know that we need a crazy result against Paris. We must be ready to go without fear, go at them, and see what happens.
“If we have to lose after a magnificent night of football, a magnificent night of emotion, we have to lose.”
Chelsea have kept eight consecutive clean sheets at Stamford Bridge, but PSG are on a club-record run of 11 successive wins and have lost by two clear goals only once in their last 110 fixtures.
Chelsea will be missing the suspended Ramires and are also likely to still be without Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o, who missed the first leg with a hamstring injury and did not feature against Stoke on Saturday.
Mourinho, who bemoaned the lack of “real strikers” in his squad after the first leg, is therefore expected to select Fernando Torres at the tip of his attack, after Andre Schurrle failed to convince in a ‘false nine’ role at Parc des Princes.
PSG also have problems up front, with talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic unavailable after injuring his thigh in the first leg, but in record signing Edinson Cavani, the French champions have an able deputy.
With the Uruguay international set to replace Ibrahimovic at centre-forward, Lucas Moura is in line to come into the team on the right flank.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc had the luxury of being able to rest almost his entire first-choice starting XI in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Reims, with right-back Gregory van der Wiel making his first appearance for a month.
However, Blanc is reluctant to meddle with a winning team and said that Christophe Jallet was likely to continue on the right flank of his side’s defence.
“Van der Wiel’s return, which I hadn’t necessarily anticipated, gives me competition on the right with Jallet and even Marquinhos, who I tried at the end of the match (against Reims),” said Blanc.
“Having said that, I already have a team line-up in mind, so we’ll now have to see how the guys recover.”