Paris Saint-Germain must play their natural game to counteract a Chelsea FC backlash and advance to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the first time in almost two decades.
Those were the sentiments of Blaise Matuidi, whose side are favourites to emerge from this last-eight tie after beating the Blues 3-1 in the French capital last Wednesday. "Chelsea are a great team and we saw their quality in the first leg. We know they're going to come out and attack us from the off," said the France midfielder. "However, we're going to focus on our own game, our philosophy. We have the quality to get the ball down and play."
Self-confidence within Lauren Blanc's star-studded squad has been swelled by a club record 11 straight wins in all competitions. They are in touching distance of a second Ligue 1 title in as many season after easing past Stade de Reims at the weekend. Even without leading injured protagonist Zlatan Ibrahimović, Matuidi is convinced others can step up to the mark at Stamford Bridge.
"Zlatan is an essential player but we have a lot of good players to replace him – world-class players like Edinson Cavani, who has also scored a lot of goals," the former AS Saint-Étienne man said. "We have done well in the past when Zlatan has not been in the team, so it's important we do everything in our power for Zlatan to be playing in the semi-finals.
"We have a lot of quality," added Matuidi, a cornerstone of Paris's recent renaissance. "There are players who have already won the Champions League and have a lot of experience. We know each other a lot better now as a team and these aspects give us reason to believe we can make it into the semi-finals. It's all about putting into practice what we have learned and playing well tomorrow."
A Paris team containing household names such as David Ginola, Raí and George Weah last reached the final four in 1995 after edging out FC Barcelona 3-2 over two legs. Repeating that feat would represent something special according to Matuidi. "It would be incredible," the 26-year-old enthused. "The French public are really hoping we progress because it's been a long time. We know we have 90 minutes to play and possibly more, and we're going to give it our all."
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.