The message from Paris Saint-Germain about their approach to the Champions League quarter-final meeting with Chelsea is clear.
Speaking at their pre-match conference which took place at the Parc des Princes prior to Chelsea’s on Tuesday afternoon, the Ligue 1 champions’ manager Laurent Blanc and star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic were unified in their view on their club’s progress.
They says there is little expectation on them to progress through to the semi-finals and they consider their team far more a work in progress than the current side from Stamford Bridge.
‘We are in the quarter-finals and we are playing against a fantastic team and we have nothing to lose,’ said Ibrahimovic
‘We did a fantastic season so far and every game we win now is a bonus for us because it is a project going on two years. We are beginners, and Chelsea has a project going on 10 years and have already won the Champions League and the Europa League. They are a great club with a great coach.
‘I think all the eight teams in the quarter-finals have a possibility to win the competition and it is very exciting, the first time in the quarter-finals with the eight teams very strong. In our game I think Chelsea is the super favourites. It is a big test to see where we are.’
Blanc, who was manager of Bordeaux when they played Chelsea back in the group stage in 2008, said his current side were taking their development step by step and the next step is to compete in games such as this week’s match in French capital.
‘The Champions League takes a lot of experience and it takes a lot of time to gain this experience,’ he said.
‘At domestic level we won the title last season and met our objective but if you look at the European level we are one of the two clubs with least experience in the quarter-finals, and PSG needs time to settle at the top European level.’
Blanc acknowledged the current Chelsea side pose a considerable threat on the counter-attack, a contrast to PSG’s style which he described as a possession game, but he says he won’t allow his side to be scared of the Blues on the break as that would prevent them playing their best football.
‘Both sides will play their way,’ added the former Man United defender. ‘We are aware Chelsea don’t conceded many goals and Paris score a lot of goals, so let’s see who’s the more efficient tomorrow.’
The subject of Chelsea’s pacy play on the counter-attack couldn’t pass without a mention for Eden Hazard who joined Chelsea from the French league.
‘We know him really well and I always thought him very impressive in one-v-one situations and in how fast he is on his feet and in his movement,’ said Blanc.
‘Since he went to Chelsea he scores more goals and makes many dangerous opportunities and I notice when Chelsea are in difficult situations he has the freedom to go everywhere to try to bring the team back up. He is still very young and I see a very bright future for him.’
Ibrahimovic, who ruled out during the conference playing for an English club at any stage of his remaining career, will come up against a former manager in Jose Mourinho, the two having worked together at Inter Milan.
‘As a coach he [Mourinho] has done everything apart from with a national team and his experience with clubs is that he has won everything. As a person I am lucky to know him,’ said the 32-year-old.
‘He is a great person and at Inter I had a great relationship, no problems with him and hopefully he had no problems with me, and he knows what he has do to win.’