With the tie between Chelsea FC and Paris Saint Germain hanging by a thread, the last thing Blues fans wanted to see was their best player going down with an injury. Unfortunately that is precisely what happened with Eden Hazard. Hazard was subbed out in the 18th minute for Andre Schurrle and the tie turned with one player swap. Hazard had looked off the pace before the substitution and he said after the match that he felt something in his calf in the warmup and did not want to take the risk. Why he was still in the lineup is unclear but some believe it was more of Jose Mourinho’s mind games.
Whatever the reason for Hazard’s presence in the lineup, it was Andre Schurrle that set the tone for the Blues and turned the tie in his side’s favor. He opened the scoring with a finely controlled half-volley in the 32nd minute to fill the Blues with more belief than they already had. A long throw by Branislav Ivanovic deep in the PSG half was flicked on in the box by David Luiz and Andre Schurrle found himself unmarked at the penalty spot. He swung his right leg and coolly slotted home and Stamford Bridge erupted.
Andre Schurrle continued his direct runs and was a constant nuisance for PSG on both sides of the ball. He was harrying the fullbacks on either side and his linkup play with Oscar and Willian was brilliant as they poked and prodded the PSG defense in search of a second goal. Schurrle was nearly rewarded with a brace as his absolute rocket of a shot cannoned off the crossbar in the 52nd minute. He had the keeper beat and it would have been a spectacular effort to see the Blues through to the next round. It still filled the Blues with belief that a second goal was coming no matter what.
Schurrle has been a major force in the Chelsea lineup in the second half of the season and his hard work and effort paid off with what is the biggest goal of his Chelsea career so far. There are still many more important matches to go for the Blues and if Hazard’s injury is serious then Schurrle must be the big man for the big occasion once again.
For an excellent report on Andre Schurrle’s tactical impact, check out this Sky Sports article.
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