Wednesday 24th February 2010
Venue: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza
Mourinho plays down advantage
Jose Mourinho stressed his intricate knowledge of Chelsea does not mean his Inter Milan side have an advantage ahead of Wednesday night's Champions League clash.
Mourinho faces the Blues for the first time since leaving Stamford Bridge in September 2007 after three years in charge.
But although most of the players remain the same, that does not necessarily mean Mourinho knows how to beat the Blues.
"I know Chelsea well but that doesn't mean that it's any easier," he said.
"Sometimes it's more difficult because when you know so much about the team, if you don't decide what is the right information to give to the your new players about your old players, you can get into trouble.
"I played against Porto with Chelsea the year after I left, so in the 2004/05 season.
"It was my team, my players and I knew everything about them, but it was not easy. We won one game and lost the other one."
Likewise, Mourinho does not see any advantage in the current Blues manager Carlo Ancelotti returning to the city where he spent most of his managerial career, as boss of AC Milan.
"It's not easy," added Mourinho.
"I don't think it is for Carlo Ancelotti, who knows Inter very well, and has worked all his life in Italian football and played against Inter a dozen times and is a local man, a man from Milan, from the same city.
"I think he knows everything about us, everything about our players, but I don't think it's an advantage at all."
Mourinho is not expecting Chelsea to come and build the barricades - and nor will Inter - but predicts the tie will be decided at Stamford Bridge next month, rather than Wednesday night.
"I don't remember seeing a game involving Chelsea and them going on the field to defend, or not to win, or to play for a 0-0," he said.
"Inter are the same. It's a game which could be 180 minutes, but it may even be 30 minutes more.
"The first game is important, but I think the second is even more important because that's the one which decides the tie."
As for his own team, Mourinho is still sweating over the fitness of goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who was involved in a car accident on Sunday.
Although the Brazilian was able to train on Tuesday, Mourinho will assess him again prior to kick-off having called veteran goalkeeper Francesco Toldo up as cover.
Ancelotti insists that events outside of Chelsea's dressing room will have little effect on their preparation.
Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole is to separate from his wife Cheryl following a string of allegations about affairs with other women.
But Ancelotti, keen to play down a war of words with Mourinho, insisted his squad would not be distracted by any off-the-field issues.
"I think we are focused will be on this important game," said Ancelotti.
"We will not change our motivation for this game, whatever happens outside our dressing room."
Ancelotti has found himself facing a major selection headache over the left-back position.
Cole's broken ankle and a calf injury to Yury Zhirkov has left the Italian having to call upon Juliano Belletti.
Belletti has not played for over a month because of a knee injury and Chelsea's problems have been further compounded by the fact that Paulo Ferreira, who can play in that position, has not been included in the club's Champions League squad.
Mourinho has found himself unpopular among other Serie A coaches and Italian football's authorities because of his outspoken behaviour and Ancelotti had allegedly claimed that every neutral in Italy will be hoping his Chelsea side can beat Mourinho's Inter.
But Ancelotti added: "I never said this. I respect Inter Milan fully. I understand how much Inter want to win this cup but we also want to win it.
"To be honest I am not interested in Inter Milan and their dressing room.
"I think the game will be very even with two strong teams and it will be a great battle."
Wednesday 24th February 2010
Labels: Soccer Live