Chelsea v Paris St Germain
With a 100 per cent record from their first four games Chelsea have already comfortably wrapped up Group H. Manager Jose Mourinho insistents there will be no complacency though, whatever team he puts out tonight against Paris St Germain.
PSG are battling for second place in the group with CSKA Moscow and Porto and Mourinho will take the opportunity to conserve his players’ energy by rotating his squad.
“It does not mean we are not wanting to win,” said Mourinho, whose side are already assured of top spot.
“If I can [rest] two or three players against PSG and two or three against Charlton [on Saturday] and again against Fulham [next Tuesday] I can conserve some energy. It’s important to have the chance to rest.” he added.
With that in mind Mourinho is expected to replace midfielder Claude Makelele with Scott Parker, right-back Paulo Ferreira with Glen Johnson and keeper Petr Cech with Carlo Cudicini.
Captain John Terry, who played Saturday’s match against Bolton with a neck injury, is in the squad but unlikely to start.
Mourinho also confirmed striker Didier Drogba, who has been out for six weeks, will turn out for half an hour.
Drogba said: “It has been difficult for me but I am very happy to be back.”
The Ivory Coast forward scored twice in the 3-0 win in Paris in the corresponding fixture but is not expecting an automatic return to the team.
“Of course it will be difficult to get back in the team,” he said. “But if the coach calls for me I will give it my best.”
Meanwhile, PSG coach, Vahid Halilhodzic, believes they are facing one of the two best teams in Europe, along with Barcelona. Nonetheless, he is confident they can do better than in the first game between the sides.
“If we can keep the ball tomorrow and don’t lose it, if we have a better technique then we can do well,” he said. “But we are facing a team that I believe can go on and win the Champions League.”
Danijel Ljuboja is missing through injury but Charles-Edouard Coridon is fit to return for PSG.
Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier believes Mourinho will guide the London club to a trophy this season.
“Chelsea are the ones who impress me most,” Houllier told France Football.
“They have a coach who has already won the Champions League and who is adored by the players.
“I don’t know whether it’s going to be the Premier League or the European Cup, but everything points to Chelsea winning something.”
He added: “They have unmatched quality on their bench and they’re eager for success.”
The Porto game with CSKA kicks off two hours before the match at Stamford Bridge and in the latter stages of such a tight group this would seem to give PSG a slight advantage over their group rivals. Mourinho is confident Chelsea will not do his old team or CSKA a disservice though.
“I have spoken to the players and told them that we are a better team than PSG,” he said.
“But many, many times in football, motivation makes the difference. CSKA and Porto play before us so when PSG get on to the pitch they will know if they need a draw or the three points and they will be full of motivation.
“If we allow PSG to have a bigger commitment and motivation than us, then we have no chance. After the game in Moscow I told the CSKA manager that in the games with PSG and Porto we will be fighting for a result. I want the second best team to be in the next round with us.”
Chelsea will also be keen to get back to winning ways after dropping two league points on Saturday in the 2-2 draw with Bolton.
The Chelsea boss added: “The reaction of the players immediately afterwards was a bad reaction and I am happy with that because no one was happy,”
“It was not a good result for us,” he said.
“But when you wake up the next day and we are top of the league, top of our group in the Champions League and we are in the quarter-finals of the Carling (League) Cup then we have not many reasons to be unhappy.”