By Julien Pretot
Paris St Germain must be ruthless in front of goal when they take on 2012 winners Chelsea in a Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday, according to coach Laurent Blanc.
The Ligue 1 champions-elect are on an eight-game winning streak in all competitions but the former France centre-back knows Chelsea, under Jose Mourinho, have the experience and defensive know-how to strangle any opposition.
“We will have to be more efficient,” said Blanc. “We will have fewer chances and those we create we will have to convert.
“We know we need to be at another level,” he added of the Parc des Princes clash.
Blanc’s expensively-assembled squad have no equals in the domestic league, leading second-placed Monaco by 13 points with seven games left this season.
PSG also sailed through to the knockout stages of the Champions League from a group featuring Anderlecht, Portoand Olympiakos Piraeus before dismissing Bayer Leverkusen in the last 16.
The key to both games against Chelsea could be Blanc’s red-hot striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Swedish international is the runaway leading scorer in Ligue 1 this term with 25 goals, 11 ahead of team mate Edinson Cavani and Alexandre Lacazette of Olympique Lyon who share second place.
Ibrahimovic has also excelled in the Champions League, bagging 10 goals in this season’s competition.
PSG, perhaps with one eye on the Chelsea game, produced a below-par performance at Nice on Friday and needed an own goal to secure a 1-0 win.
The Ligue 1 leaders are expected to be at full strength although they have a slight doubt over Thiago Silva.
The Brazilian centre back is likely to have to play in a face mask after fracturing his cheekbone two weeks ago.
Silva and full back Gregory van der Wiel, who is recovering from a knee injury, were rested against Nice.
The last time Chelsea visited the Parc des Princes in the 2004-05 group stages, for Mourinho’s first European game as the London club’s manager, they beat PSG 3-0.
Mourinho will be desperate for a reaction from his players after they delivered an abject show in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at struggling Crystal Palace.
Chelsea were sluggish in midfield and toothless in attack, prompting the Portuguese to say their Premier Leaguetitle ambitions were now a thing of the past.
Gary Cahill, one of four defenders to escape Mourinho’s wrath on Saturday, said it was a painful experience for the squad.
“It hurts losing any football match and it certainly hurt at the end of the game because we knew how vital three points would be,” said Cahill.
“It was massively disappointing, the feeling at the end of the game was horrible, but all we can do is keep pushing … we have to bounce back.”
Mourinho says his side will give a better account of themselves in Paris than they did at Crystal Palace.
The only consolation, he said, was that the whole squad should be sufficiently motivated by a glamorous Champions League night in Paris facing PSG in the quarter-final first leg.
“Paris is the kind of match they feel comfortable to play,” he said. “Big match, great stadium, opponents with top quality, they will be fine. They will be in their natural habitat in that match. They can do a good match there.”
Mourinho is attempting to become the first manager to win three European Cups with different clubs after his successes with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan six years later.
Midfielder Nemanja Matic and winger Mohamed Salah are ineligible, after joining Chelsea in the January transfer window.
Brazilian playmaker Willian should be back after being rested at Palace while Mourinho is hoping Samuel Eto’o can return up front after suffering a hamstring problem against Arsenal two weekends ago.