Quarter-final Second Leg (First leg: 1-1)
It’s a case of more of the same for Valencia when they entertain Chelsea in tonight’s Champions League quarter-final second leg.
“I have already asked my players to perform as if the first leg didn’t happen and we don’t have the advantage of a 1-1 draw,” said Valencia coach Quique Sanchez Flores. “I have demanded a night of very high intensity and I want us to push Chelsea back by playing very high up the pitch.”
“When your opponents have footballers of the quality of Drogba or Andriy Shevchenko, then it’s obviously key to keep them as far from your penalty area as possible, for as long as possible. But given how Chelsea played for some of the last game, I’ve told my players that I want them to close down the opposition defenders and never allow them the easy option of a long ball. Linked to that, if Chelsea do hit the ball long to, say, Drogba then we need to be super alert and win the second ball when it is knocked down.”
Despite the suspensions of Carlos Marchena and David Navarro plus the thigh injury picked up by Vicente Rodríguez in the first leg, Sanchez Flores welcomes back Fernando Morientes from a dislocated shoulder.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has been booosted by the news that midfielder Michael Essien is fit to play.
“I asked him if he was coming with us to Valencia for a holiday or to play,” joked the Chelsea boss. “He said it was to play and that’s good – if I like his training pre match then I want to use him.”
Mourinho sounded confident of becoming the first English team to leave the Mestellla with a victory.
“It’s obvious that 0-0 means we are out so we are here to get a goal – and perhaps one goal is enough,” said Mourinho. “We have scored goals late in games many times this season but perhaps in Valencia, it will be the case that we are defending a lead late in the game. The Mestalla will be a pressure environment but fans don’t score goals – I want our positive European season to continue and we can do it.”
Santiago Canizares; Luis Miguel, Roberto Ayala, Emiliano Moretti, Asier del Horno; Miguel Angel Angulo, Raul Albiol, David Albelda, David Silva; Fernando Morientes, David Villa.
Petr Cech; Lassana Diarra, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry, Ashley Cole; Michael Essien, John Obi Mikel, Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard; Didier Drogba, Andriy Shevchenko.