Gary Cahill is looking forward to testing himself against some of the finest attacking players in European football when we face Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of our quarter-final tie tonight in the French capital.
Jose Mourinho leads the Blues into action at the stadium where he oversaw his first Champions League game as Chelsea manager, a 3-0 win in the group stages of the 2004/05 competition.
The current Paris Saint-Germain side, however, led by Laurent Blanc, is unrecognisable from the team we faced 10 years ago.
Our hosts, who were eliminated by Barcelona at the same stage of last season’s tournament, possess one of the strongest squads in the game, and Cahill and his fellow defenders will need to be on their guard to keep a strong forward line at bay.
‘It’s a massive game and one that’s fairly equally matched,’ he tells the official Chelsea website.
‘There’s no doubt that one of their most important attributes is their front three, so it will be difficult for us, but I’m very much looking forward to testing myself against players such as Ibrahimovic, Cavani, Lavezzi and Lucas.’
A 2-0 home win over Galatasaray secured our progression to the last eight after the first leg had finished 1-1 in Istanbul, the hosts coming from behind to draw after Fernando Torres had opened the scoring.
On that night, we should have been in complete control of the contest at the break following a dominant first-half display, and Cahill acknowledges we will need to be more clinical in front of goal this time around.
‘In the Galatasaray away game we were very strong in the first half, had a few good chances and then they came into the game more in the second half,’ he says.
‘With this tie, it’s important for us to be in a situation where we can finish it off at Stamford Bridge in the second leg. We need to make sure we capitalise on any chances that come our way in Paris, and then hopefully we’ll be able to take advantage at home, where we’re very strong.’
The other game tonight sees Real Madrid face Borussia Dortmund in a repeat of last season’s semi-final, while last night Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid were all in action and finished with their contests in the balance after the first leg.
Seldom has there been such a strong line-up at the quarter-final stage, and Cahill cannot wait to see how the ties develop over the course of the two legs.
‘They’re all fantastic games,’ says the Chelsea defender.
‘It’s a really strong quarter-final line-up and I think whoever wins the Champions League this season well and truly deserves it. The opposition is so strong at this stage that every game is tough, but I’m certainly looking forward to watching them.’