There is little room for emotion in modern day sport but for Chelsea, especially their manager, this tie will be an emotional one. In the opposing ranks is a man who can lay claim to being one of the greatest players in the club’s history; the same man whose goals lit up many a night for the men in blue. Didier Drogba is a proper Jose Mourinho player, built in the image of what the Portuguese likes in his players, the Ivorian scaled great heights one of which surely be the competitive steel which will push him to get one over his old boss. The London club is definitely a work in progress, something Jose has repeated time and time again, but under no condition will their Russian owners’ expectations be any lesser.
Should it, especially after the kind of investments he has made?
The Blues travel to Turkey very much in robust health; top of the Premier League and looking to win their first Premier League title since 2009. With each passing week, the team has gradualy gone back to what would be Mourinho’s trademark style: defend with precision and break quickly before the opponent has a chance to reinforce. This particular method might not leave Roman Abramovich best pleased, no one can deny it’s efficient and works even better in Europe where the margins tend to be slim, one mistake normally spells curtains. Chelsea are definitely not favourites to win the title but that’s perfectly fine with their manager.
Mourinho said: “We are not favourites as there are four or five teams who are above us in terms of their players and their status. But Chelsea won it when they were not favourites and I have won it twice when I have not been a favourite.”
Jose was also wary about the threat posed by one of his most famous wards. “As for Drogba, we will have to do our job because we know he will want to do his, which is to score goals. It is a strange feeling to play him and we have to try to forget it.
Mourinho’s counterpart could very well be a polar opposite when it comes to European pedigree. While domestic success in Italy and England have definitely helped rise Roberto Mancini’s stock, its European failings that have eventually undermined him. The Italian won the Serie A 3 times in succession but watched as Mourinho completed the treble and guided the Italians over the European hurdle. Maybe it was with this in mind that he said in his pre-match conference, “”I think they have an 80% chance of going through.”
Mind games? Maybe, but lest we forget Mancini had used similar words to lead Manchester City to a famous and dramatic Premier League victory.
Both sides come in with reasonably good form as Chelsea eked out a 1-0 win over Everton over the weekend which kept them top of the pile in England. As for Galatasaray, a club used to coming out trumps in Turkey, they find themselves trailing Fenerbache by 4 points but come into the game after a big win over rivals Besiktas. While Chelsea have the luxury of fielding an almost fully fit side, Galatsaray will welcome back midfielder Aydan Yilmaz.
Despite the word friendship popping up so frequently, the tie has been given an added edge after two Chelsea fans were stabbed in Istanbul. Both clubs are meeting each other for the first time but with so much history between each camp, it might feel all too familiar. Wesley Sneijder summarized it perfectly when he said, “”We [under Mourinho at Inter Milan] won this trophy together. But tomorrow is completely different, although outside the match we are friends. It’s an important game, a game I want to win.”
Be sure that for 90 minutes, the best of friends will try to become the fiercest of rivals!