By Tony Jimenez
Chelsea are brimming with confidence and, fortified by a seven-day break, go into Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 return match (9.45pm) as favourites to knock Paris St Germain out for the second season in a row.
Defender Gary Cahill says ‘there’s a great buzz’ around Stamford Bridge after the Londoners followed their 2-0 League Cup final victory over Tottenham Hotspur on March 1 by winning 1-0 at West Ham United in the Premier League three days later.
Treble-chasing Chelsea, who are five points clear at the top of the Premier League, have not played since their Upton Park triumph and, according to Cahill, the Wembley win over Spurs has lifted the squad’s self-belief to new heights.
“The Cup final was huge in terms of the atmosphere around the club and the dressing room,” he told the club website (www.chelseafc.com).
“We were desperate as a squad to win that game. It’s the first time this group, a newish group formed at the start of last season and before this season, has reached the end of a competition together.
“We came through it really well and hopefully we can take the positive experiences from that and try and build momentum for many more cup finals,” added Cahill.
“We are very proud of winning our first trophy as a group together and getting that win at West Ham. But they are gone, all that is on our minds now is the PSG game.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was missing through injury when PSG were beaten on away goals by Chelsea in last season’s quarter-finals but the French club’s talismanic striker is fit this time round.
Last month’s first leg in Paris ended in a 1-1 draw and visiting coach Laurent Blanc wants his attack to be more ruthless than they were during Saturday’s 4-1 victory over struggling RC Lens in Ligue 1.
“When you play a game like the one against Lens you must be efficient,” said Blanc who criticised Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi for wasting an opportunity in front of an open goal.
“If he misses the same chance at Stamford Bridge I won’t be the only one who is not happy.”
PSG will be without injured forward Lucas but fellow Brazilian David Luiz returns to Chelsea for the first time since moving to Paris in the close season.