Chelsea face exodus if they lose, says Neil Humphreys
Chelsea must win Champions League or they will face terminal decline
ROUND OF 16, 2ND LEG
CHELSEA v PARIS ST GERMAIN
(Tomorrow, 3.40am, Singtel TV Ch 112 & StarHub TV Ch 212)
- PSG lead 2-1 from first leg
David Luiz was once expected to succeed John Terry as Chelsea captain, but neither will be at Stamford Bridge next season.
Luiz's £50-million ($98m) sale to Paris Saint-Germain essentially paid for Diego Costa's transfer to the Blues.
And again, neither will be at the club next season.
Should Chelsea lose their Champions League clash to PSG tomorrow morning (Singapore time), Terry, Costa and even Eden Hazard are likely to follow Luiz through the exit.
And they will not be the only iconic names to flee the falling Bridge. Expect a stampede.
A European exit will mark the death of a dynasty. The second leg of the last-16 tie isn't just Chelsea's most significant match of this season.
It's their most important game of next season, too. A loss kills off the campaign and kick-starts the exodus.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has always known that money can't buy him love, but it can buy him short-term loyalty at least, as long as he retains that Champions League carrot to dangle.
Without that, he's just another wealthy oligarch sunning himself on a yacht while fiddling with his English Premier League toy. Almost every club have one of those guys now.
Abramovich is so 2003. The game has moved on. The Blues are at risk of being left behind.
Overcoming the 2-1 deficit from the first leg barely hints at the magnitude of Chelsea's challenge.
They've got to go all the way. Whether Terry turns up in his kit, his club suit or Spongebob Squarepants underwear, he must lift the Champions League trophy in May or the club face terminal decline.
With cheeky timing, the British media are awash with stories claiming Costa is unsettled and halfway out the door.
While Guus Hiddink hopes his striker shakes off a tendon tweak, the caretaker coach must contend with newspaper rumours linking the Spaniard to PSG, of all clubs.
The permutations are uncomplicated - no Champions League football, no point in staying. The same goes for Hazard and perhaps even Cesc Fabregas.
Hiddink has made a little history, becoming the first manager to start a Premier League spell with a 12-match unbeaten run, but he knows history of the infamous kind beckons.
Chelsea must win a second European Cup to play in the competition for a 14th successive year. The Champions League is the only magnet, pulling in greedy-eyed footballers like the Death Star's tractor beam.
Cash no longer counts.
Last season, Manchester United could just about miss out on the Champions League and attract interest from the reigning elite.
Before the new TV deal was announced, the Red Devils' extravagant attempt to fritter away more dollar bills than a family gathering of the Kardashians could still open doors to genuine pedigree.
But that's only because the pedigree was reciprocated. The road to Old Trafford leads through Sir Matt Busby Way and Sir Alex Ferguson Way. United will always be an alluring prospect. The club are coated in a rich sheen of classy heritage and unrivalled success.
Chelsea are not even close. Nor do they have Jose Mourinho any more, a polarising figure no doubt, but one whose global brand still dwarfs that of his old club.
During a recent visit, Mourinho stopped the traffic in Singapore. Last weekend, Chelsea struggled to stop Stoke.
Without the glossy name, Chelsea are just a cash cow and there are plenty of those around now.
In pre-season, Everton's John Stones turned down a £38m bid, the chance to work with Mourinho and regular Champions League football.
Why would he want to join them next season, when they could promise only one out of three?
And, even then, Everton could conceivably match any cash offer, with new majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri bringing his piggy bank to the boardroom.
Interestingly, PSG midfielder Marco Verratti spoke yesterday of his admiration for both Fabregas and Costa. Not so long ago, he would've been a typical Blues target.
Still only 23, his speed, tenacity and unerring passing range are prerequisites for any Chelsea line-up (particularly a Mourinho line-up).
In the past, the impressionable youngster might have succumbed to Chelsea's overtures and their deliverable promise of cash and cups, but not any more.
After Verratti's fine performance in the first leg, swopping Paris for west London at such a pivotal stage of his career would be viewed as a backward step.
PSG are going places. Chelsea are going nowhere, unless they win the Champions League.
Their long-term future hinges on the outcome of the second leg.
Before kick-off, Chelsea fans will be queuing to get in at Stamford Bridge.
If they lose, Chelsea's footballers will be queuing to get out.
By the numbers
Chelsea are in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the 12th time in the last 13 seasons. They
have reached the quarter-finals on eight of these occasions.
Paris St Germain have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League for the fourth consecutive season,
their best ever run. They have been eliminated in the quarter-finals in the last three campaigns.
The two sides are meeting each other in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the third consecutive
Guus: Let's be angry underdogs
It is hard to imagine former boss Jose Mourinho ever calling Chelsea underdogs, but that's how successor Guus Hiddink has described them before their Champions League last-16, second-leg clash against Paris St Germain tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
The French champions head to Stamford Bridge for the third successive season, having knocked Chelsea out at the same stage a year ago.
They are again favourites according to Hiddink, following their 2-1 victory in the first leg in Paris on Feb 16.
The wily 69-year-old Dutchman may well be playing mind games, but he said: "We are not the favourites. We have regained confidence and have quality, but let's be very tough underdogs.
"We need to be angry in a controlled way - the players must be fully concentrated."
Chelsea's results have improved since Mourinho left in December, losing only once - at PSG - in 18 matches in all competitions.
Guus Hiddink ( above)
A 1-0 win now will be enough to see them through on away goals.
That is how they beat PSG in the quarter-finals two seasons ago and how PSG eliminated them last season. With the tie finely balanced, that could well be the outcome again.
Chelsea will almost certainly be without injured skipper John Terry, but striker Diego Costa could be fit after missing last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Stoke City with a minor tendon injury.
Former Chelsea defender David Luiz, who won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012 and scored for PSG at Stamford Bridge last season, told uefa.com on Monday that he will always have an affection for the Blues after spending three seasons there.
But he was determined to see PSG knock them out.
"My respect, my love for Chelsea, will always be the same," the Brazil international said.
"But I hope we can come out as winners there.
"London was a city and a club where I was very happy. I had some great moments there, but I am focused on my work, which is to play for PSG."
PSG arrive on the back of some poor results after suffering their first Ligue 1 defeat in almost a year, when they lost 2-1 at Lyon two weeks ago and drew 0-0 at home with Montpellier last Saturday.
Coach Laurent Blanc will probably have to replace key midfielder Marco Verratti with Argentine playmaker Javier Pastore, because Verratti has a recurring groin problem.
France midfielder Blaise Matuidi should be fit after recovering from a thigh injury, while Lucas Moura is expected to start on the left flank of the attack instead of Edinson Cavani, who scored PSG's winning goal in Paris three weeks ago.
Terry misses training
Chelsea captain John Terry was absent from training before tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) Champions League last-16 second leg with Paris St Germain.
The 35-year-old defender has missed the last five matches with a hamstring problem sustained in the 5-1 win over Newcastle on Feb 13.
Terry took part in training two days later but then did not travel to Paris for the first leg, which Chelsea lost 2-1.
The skipper missed the 15 minutes of yesterday's training, which was accessible to the media, but striker Diego Costa was present after missing last Saturday's draw with Stoke as a precaution due to a minor tendon problem. Kenedy (groin) and Pedro Rodriguez (hamstring) also took part.
Radamel Falcao, absent since October with a thigh problem, trained, but the striker is not in Chelsea's Champions League squad.
- PA Sport.