Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will select Thibaut Courtois for tonight’s crucial Champions League last 16 first leg against Paris Saint-Germain, despite dropping the Belgium international to the bench in favour of Petr Cech for the Blues’ previous fixture against Everton.
This is according to the Mirror, who state that Mourinho has decided to revert back to his first-choice goalkeeper after taking him out of the firing line following unconvincing performances against Manchester City and Aston Villa.
Cech came in for the Everton match and performed well: keeping a clean sheet and producing a fine save from Romelu Lukaku to help secure Chelsea all three points. But the experienced Czech Republic international will be dropped back down to the bench in favour of 22-year-old Courtois for arguably the Blues’ biggest match of the season so far.
Cech conceded three goals in this fixture last season - albeit at the quarter-finals stage, rather than the last 16 - as PSG recorded a 3-1 win over Mourinho’s men in April 2014.
But that result is unlikely to have had any bearing over Mourinho’s final decision. Cech would be more than capable of producing an effective performance in between the sticks for Chelsea this evening, but Courtois possesses that added dash of world-class quality.
The young ‘keeper may have looked nervy in his previous two outings, but this is a player with immense self-confidence and ability.
Courtois will be eager to make amends for his recent displays with a typically convincing performance at the Parc des Princes - and Mourinho will be hoping that his gamble pays off.
Even if Mourinho had stuck by Cech, however, it would have been regarded as a risk.
The 32-year-old has spent most of the season on the substitutes’ bench, while his best years are now arguably behind him.
Courtois is the logical choice
That’s not to say Cech is now over the hill - he remains a fine goalkeeper - but Courtois is one of the best players in the world in his position.
In fact, he’s arguably the very best. Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer and Manchester United’s David de Gea are the only two goalkeepers on the planet who rival the Belgian for the status as the world’s best.
Mourinho has made the logical choice with his team selection this evening - but Courtois must now repay his manager’s faith.
Should Courtois or Cech start in goal for Chelsea this evening? Have your say in the comments below.