Thibaut Courtois has warned his Chelsea team-mates to watch out for Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Tuesday’s Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain.
Not just because the Sweden international is a fine talent capable of changing the game in the blink of an eye.
Instead, Courtois fears Ibrahimovic will be highly-motivated following his sending off in last season’s meeting between the two clubs.
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The PSG striker was shown a straight red card in the second leg of last year’s last-16 clash at Stamford Bridge for a two-footed lunge on Chelsea midfielder Oscar, causing John Terry and a host of other players to confront referee Bjorn Kuipers.
Ibrahimovic later accused Chelsea’s players of acting like “babies” and, though PSG went on to win the tie, Courtois remains fearful that the hitman wants payback.
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“With the red card against us last year, Ibrahimovic will want revenge against the Chelsea players,” the goalkeeper told Canal+, as reported by FourFourTwo.
“But there are also two, with Chelsea seeking revenge for last year’s result.”
Last year's thriller
The Blues were unable to overcome their French opponents despite playing against 10 men for 90 minutes. After the first leg finished 1-1 at the Parc des Princes, Gary Cahill looked to have secured Chelsea’s progression to the quarter-finals when he scored in the 81st minute.
However, former Chelsea player David Luiz took the game to extra-time with an 86th minute equaliser before Eden Hazard restored the Blues’ lead six minutes after the restart.
But, with six minutes to go, Thiago Silva ensured Ibrahimovic’s sending off wouldn’t prove fatal when he headed in a corner, securing PSG’s passage to the next round on away goals.
Despite the red card not coming back to bite the Ligue 1 side, Ibrahimovic certainly remembers the nine Chelsea players who surrounded Kuipers in a bid to get him sent off.
He said after the game: “I don’t know if I have to get angry or start to laugh. For me when I saw the red card I was like ‘[Kuipers] doesn’t know what he’s doing’”, reported the Guardian.
“That is not the worst. The worst is when I got the red card all the Chelsea players come around. It felt like I had a lot of babies around me.”
The former Barcelona star also implied that Oscar feigned injury.
“I pulled out [of the tackle], because I saw him come in the tackle,” Ibrahimovic added. “I don’t know if he was acting afterwards.
“Doesn’t matter. We won the game, we went through.”
Courtois reckons failure to advance to the quarter-finals in this season’s competition would count as a disappointment to both teams.
“This year we want to win this game. For both clubs, to go out in this round, it is not good enough.
“Both want to go far in the Champions League. We know that Paris has a very strong team, it will not be easy.”
The return leg will be held at Stamford Bridge on March 9.