John Terry and 'pitiful' Serge Aurier miss Chelsea vs PSG
Skipper out with thigh injury as French club reels after attack from one of their own
Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea clash tonight in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie - and both clubs have had to deal with disruption.
The London side travel to Paris without John Terry, the centre-half ruled out with a hamstring injury sustained in Saturday's 5-1 thrashing of Newcastle. The Guardian reports that scans "revealed liquid around the tendon in the thigh" and although the 35-year-old defender trained with the Blues on Monday, it was decided he would not be included in the squad tonight.
It's believed Chelsea want Terry fit for Sunday's FA Cup encounter against Manchester City, particularly as centre-back Kurt Zouma has been ruled out for the season after undergoing knee surgery. Therefore, manager Guus Hiddink will start with Branislav Ivanovic in central defence against PSG instead of his usual position of right-back.
"It was not a decision made by me," Hiddink told reporters on Monday, when asked about Terry's omission. "He was having too much trouble to travel... We made a test this morning and didn't work out well, so the decision was made to leave him at home. He was, himself, also convinced he could not be of worth to the team at the moment."
Asked if he was worried about re-jigging his defence in what is Chelsea's biggest game of the season, Hiddink replied: "Of course, not having John is a bit of a setback. He's a leader. But I'm not the type of coach to moan and moan. We have to go on. The players who will replace him I have complete faith in them... We've practised with other people in at central defence, so it was not a surprise for the players that we had to make some changes."
Chelsea's emphatic win over Newcastle at the weekend was further evidence the Blues are at last finding some form after a horrific first half of the season, but they remain in the bottom group of the table, in stark contrast to PSG, who are 24 points clear of their domestic rivals and have yet to lose in Ligue 1.
But the French club have had to cope with unwanted headlines this week. Video footage of defender Serge Aurier emerged at the weekend making what the BBC describes as "homophobic comments" about PSG coach Laurent Blanc and consequently, the 23-year-old Ivory Coast international has been suspended indefinitely.
Aurier has issued a public apology for his comments, which also included disparaging remarks about several teammates, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, reports the Daily Mirror. But Blanc was in no mood for forgiveness when asked about the player's behaviour. "How did I react? Very badly," he said. "He's a big boy, can do what he wants, but he's penalising the club through the image he gives and what he said."
It's not the first time Aurier, who joined PSG from Toulouse in 2014, has let himself down with ill-advised remarks. In March 2015, he was suspended for three European matches after posting insulting comments about referee Bjorn Kuipers on social media following a Champions League game.
"This is a democracy, we are free to think what we think, we can have our own opinions," said Blanc. "But that boy... Two years ago, I committed myself to make him come to Paris and what I saw was all the thanks I got. I think that's pitiful."
However, Blanc dismissed suggestions the furore had impacted on PSG's build-up to tonight's match against Chelsea. "We would like to have prepared with a little bit more calm," he said. "One player won't play, but for the rest the preparation is the same as usual."