Chelsea’s Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain will be the first time that David Luiz will face his old team since his move to Paris in the summer for £50 million.
Lining up against his former team means he will also be lining up against Chelsea’s new hitman, Diego Costa. Costa, originally of Brazil but now a Spanish international, will not make life easy for the Brazilian defender.
It will be an interesting clash as both players have a reputation for having feisty characters. As we know from Luiz’s time in England, he is not afraid of getting physical with opposing strikers, and that is something that Costa will relish as he thrives on that sort of encounter.
Costa has been prolific in the Premier League this season and has more than justified his £32 million price tag. He has settled right into life in England and has scored 17 goals in 19 games so far, which is pretty formidable.
As potent as he has been in the Premier League, he hasn’t scored in any other competitions including the Champions League. according to Opta, over the 307 minutes of football Costa has played in this seasons Champions League he hasn’t scored in any of his 14 attempts.
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Is that worrying for Chelsea? Not in the slightest as they have more than enough fire power in their team to cope with Costa’s lack of goals in the competition, as well as this, he is returning after a three game suspension so will be hungry for goals.
It is not just goals that Costa provides for Chelsea though as his work rate off the ball gives Chelsea so many options going forward, something they lacked last year. His movement up front allows players such as Fabregas, Oscar and Hazard to penetrate defences more effectively.
There’s no doubt he will be involved in deciding the outcome of this game for Chelsea, and it will be clear to see how much Chelsea have missed over their three games when he returns.
Before sealing his record transfer fee for a defender to PSG in the summer, Luiz helped Chelsea lift the Champions League and the Europa League in successive seasons. Things clearly didn’t work out between Luiz and Jose Mourinho as the Brazilian has said this week that he snubbed Chelsea’s offer of a new deal in favour of moving to Paris.
Since joining PSG Luiz has made 25 Ligue 1 and Champions League appearances. During those games this season, according to Opta, the Brazilian has made 46 successful tackles, more than any of John Terry, Gary Cahill or Kurt Zouma.
He has performed well in other key areas making 60 interceptions, 97 clearances and more importantly ahead of his battle with Costa, he has won 147 of his duels.
During his time at Chelsea, Luiz was not always reliable when he played at the back for the Blues as he often had the tendency to wander forward and leave gaps in Chelsea’s defence. It’s a characteristic he seems to have worked on, but when Luiz wants to go forward, he still will, and could leave the door open for Costa to sneak in.
There will be a number of key battles in this fixture, with a similar one coming at the other end with John Terry and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But it is Costa and Luiz that could provide the most entertainment.
Two very physical players that will do whatever they can to get the better of their opponent going at it should provide some talking points.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Luiz can cope with such a physical presence against him or if Costa will in fact get the better of him and win the duel.
During his time at Chelsea, you could tell when Luiz was getting beaten as he would lose his head and make reckless challenges and he seemed to be very easy to wind up.
Training with Zlatan could help
However you would think that training every day with a striker like Ibrahimovic would prepare him for any type of attacking threat. However, Costa is a different type of player than Ibrahimovic, he actually seems to enjoy getting under the skin of his opponents and thrives on physicality.
You can expect Costa to come out on top in this battle and there will, without doubt be bookings, maybe a sending off, just because of the nature of the two players. Laurent Blanc may have to call on Thiago Silva to help his countryman out with the handling of Costa to keep the Blues attack at bay.
There won't be much between the two sides elsewhere on the pitch so it could be down to Costa getting the better of Luiz in their battle to give Chelsea the best chance of going through to next round.
Who will come out on top: Luiz or Costa? Give us your predictions in the comments below.