Diego Costa’s much awaited return to the Chelsea fold has been confirmed by manager Jose Mourinho ahead of the Blues’ showdown with Paris Saint-Germain.
Mourinho is worried, however with the lack of game time from his powerful centre forward due to a suspension that was dished out in the 1-0 win over Liverpool in the Capital One Cup.
“He will start but a long rest is not good for him,” the Special One conceded. “I don’t think it’s good for a player to be three weeks, or three matches, without starting a game. So I don’t think he’ll be in the best condition.
“A little rest is welcome for everyone; a big rest isn’t good for the players. So we are not going to see the best Diego. I hope I’m wrong, but probably he will need this game to try to get back to his best.”
Costa has not scored in the Champions League yet for Chelsea, despite leading the club’s goal scoring charts with 17 goals.
It is not a good omen for the West Londoners, who have not won on French soil since a 3-0 win, coincidentally over PSG, in September 2004, in what was Mourinho’s first Champions League match as Chelsea manager.
PSG themselves are unbeaten in 32 Champions League matches at home, a record that stretches back to December 2004, with their last home loss coming at the hands of CSKA Moscow, who won 1-3 at the Parc des Princes.
Laurent Blanc, PSG manager, is anxious of his side’s injury woes though, stating “You cannot play against Chelsea without being 100%”.
Yohan Cabaye (groin), Serge Aurier (thigh), Lucas Moura (also groin) and Thiago Motta (calf) will all miss tonight’s encounter
Not a problem Chelsea have though as only John Obi Mikel (knee) is unavailable for the away side and January addition Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina is eligible.
Oscar and Willian have “little problems” but are in contention for a starting birth, and the same can be said of play-maker Cesc Fabregas who looks to have recovered from a recent illness.
Chelsea are the only English team to have beaten PSG in France (with the aforementioned 3-0 in 2004, along with a win by the same score line in 1994-95).
Costa and co are the highest scorers in the Champions League this campaign with 17 goals, seven of which have come on the road, which will concern their French counterparts, as they have kept only one clean sheet in this season’s tournament (a 1-0 win over APOEL).
The 2012 champions are also unbeaten in their last four away European matches, as they look to take revenge from the 3-1 defeat they suffered here last season.
Ezequiel Lavezzi, an own goal by David Luiz (now at PSG), and Javier Pastore scored the goals for the hosts in April, with Eden Hazard’s penalty provided an away goal for Chelsea.
Andre Schurrle and a last minute goal by Demba Ba (both have since left Stamford Bridge) sent Chelsea through to the Semi Final.