Jose Mourinho set the scene for Chelsea’s Champions League round of 16 second-leg tie against Paris Saint-Germain with a lengthy meditation on aggression.
Match referee Bjorn Kuipers was doubtless the intended recipient of his rhetorical rumblings, with the dextrous propagandist telling journalists:
“This season we have played teams from the Championship, League One and League Two, but the most aggressive team was PSG. For a team with so much quality I expected more football.
“I thought a team from England would never be surprised by aggression, because aggression is in our country.
“A team with fantastic players was the team making foul after the foul. [PSG] were the team that stopped Eden Hazard with fouls all the time, the team that was attacking the man in possession of the ball with two or three players very aggressively.
“If to dominate is the number of chances created, yes Paris had more chances than us. If dominating means stopping your opponent from playing, making foul after foul, yes they also dominated.”
Surprisingly, Mourinho’s impression of Chelsea’s opponents doesn’t seem to be borne out by the statistics.
Over the course of the competition so far the Blues have committed more fouls (87-83), and received more yellow cards (10-8) than Les Parisiens.
Meanwhile, in the first leg at the Parc des Princes, the sides were tied for both bookings (2) and indiscretions (20).
Yet it would still be little surprise to see referee Kuipers extra vigilant to Les Rouges et Bleus’ incursions in light of the Chelsea boss’ forewarnings.
PSG look a fine bet to gain more yellow cards than their hosts at 4/5, with Chelsea no way to make a living in the same market at 9/5.
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Despite the tie remaining firmly in the balance at 1-1 on aggregate the Stamford Bridge side are 2/5 to qualify, with Laurent Blanc’s men 2/1.
Chelsea are also favourites in the match betting at 11/10 to claim victory inside 90 minutes, with the draw 23/10 and the away win 14/5.