During the group stage of the Champions League, Lucas Moura played a total of 166 minutes for Paris Saint-Germain as the French champions finished second behind Real Madrid. Despite playing a bit-part role to this point, on Tuesday night the Brazilian will have a huge opportunity to enhance his reputation and fire his career to the next level.
When PSG knocked the London club out of the tournament last season Lucas was injured and unable to feature. He did start at Stamford Bridge in 2014, but was sacrificed for Marquinhos with the score still 1-0 to Chelsea. PSG would be eliminated and with it went Lucas’ chance of shining on the biggest stage.
Known for his mazy runs and blistering pace, although he may still have a mysterious aura around him where Premier League fans are concerned, in France he is mostly regarded as being inconsistent and a bit of an enigma.
Earlier in the season, Lucas became somewhat of a super-sub, scoring five of his eight goals from the bench. However, as Edinson Cavani continued to struggle in the PSG attack, the calls for Lucas to be handed his place became louder and louder.
Now, they are far too loud for Blanc to ignore.
Cavani was handed the No.9 role on Saturday against Lille. That was the first indication that he wouldn't start on Tuesday. Then, the PSG coach had to endure the Uruguayan's performance.
It was dire. The former Napoli man made fewer touches than even Kevin Trapp in the PSG goal. Both substitutes, Lucas included, saw more of the ball than Cavani did for his entire 90 minutes.
One mistake from Lille 'keeper Vincent Enyeama opened a door for Cavani, but the 29-year-old couldn't hit the proverbial barn door with the whole band, never mind a banjo. His left-foot shot sailed high over the bar, and with it went any chance of Cavani keeping his place on Tuesday night.
Lucas will line up to the left of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with Angel Di Maria on the right, and the Brazilian's x-factor could play a huge role in the outcome of the two legs. The 23-year-old has all the tools you would want from a South American winger, but he's just not managed to bring it all together on the biggest stage.
His career is perfectly summed up by his most famous moment. Jinking pass Marseille's defenders at the Parc de Princes like they were training cones. A moment of magical genius, but the finish was lacking.
If he scores, it's the best goal scored that season. That's what he is capable of.
Lucas can change direction on a sixpence, he is very adept at drawing in defenders, moving the ball away and leaving them for dead with his superb acceleration. Without Kurt Zouma to chase his runs, or John Terry to command and control the defence, there will be space for Lucas to exploit - especially with more of the defence’s attention focused on stopping Di Maria and Ibrahimovic.
With 21 league goals this campaign, Zlatan is back to his best and the introduction of the Argentine forward from Manchester United has added a whole other dimension to the PSG attack. Lucas is the perfect weapon to complement to his teammates.
Not only is he gifted with the ball at his feet, Lucas has also developed a talent for nipping in at the back post and getting on the end of crosses, helpful when you have some of Europe's best firing dangerous balls into the box.
This campaign, the 23-year-old has started 18 of his 24 appearances in the league, scoring five and creating another three. He has only been handed one start in this season’s Champions League - that was against Shakhtar Donetsk and the Brazilian notched a goal and an assist. Doing that against Chelsea is another step up on the ladder, but this is the level which he needs to show he is capable of playing.
Paris Saint-Germain beat the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea to his signature when they paid €42 million to Sao Paulo for Lucas in January of 2011. He was just a teenager then, now, after four seasons at the club, it's time for Lucas to shake off the promising youngster tag and blossom into the devastating third member of Blanc's attack.
Show his ability against Chelsea and there will be few doubters left. Fail to shine and Blanc and the powers that be at PSG will wonder if he will ever be able to fulfil his price tag.
The ball is in Lucas' court, we know he has the skill to control it, but does he have the ability to make it count when it really matters?