Round of 16, second leg – Kick-off: 20-45 (CET)
First leg: Inter 2-1 Chelsea
Carlo Ancelotti said Chelsea fans would give Internazionale coach Jose Mourinho “the very good reception he deserves” on his return but promised that his players would do no favours to his old boss once the game kicks off.
Ancelotti insisted that Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge was just a sideshow as Chelsea look to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit against the Italian champions.
“The players are not distracted by [Mourinho’s return],” said the Italian. “Mourinho will come back and for him it will be a special evening. I think the fans will give him the very good reception that he deserves but the match will be another thing. All the players, from Chelsea and Inter, are focused on the game, an important game, and they are not interested in other things.
“We’ve come out of the slight downturn we experienced a couple of weeks ago. We played well against Inter and against West Ham on Saturday. But tomorrow we have to do our best. We have to show our best football, better organisation and concentration. We are sure we will win if we do this on the pitch.
“I don’t think we need to think about Inter not playing well. We know over the course of the season they have shown themselves to be a top quality team.
Ancelotti will be without injured quartet Ashley Cole, Michael Essien, Jose Bosingwa and Deco, as well as two keepers Henrique Hilario and Petr Cech, meaning third choice stopper, Ross Turnbull, will start tonight.
Mourinho manager, meanwhile, said he would not be letting emotions divert him from his task of taking Inter to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2005-06.
“Don’t confuse respect and feelings for ex-players and an ex-club with motivation to win the game,” Mourinho said.
“Special for me would be to bring Inter over the barrier they have had for a few years of not even going to the quarter-finals. Special for me is to bring the team into the next stage. I’ll read the game the best I can, make the best decisions I can, influence it in the best possible way and give everything I have to help my team win.
“Before the game, and after, Chelsea are different and I have to be different. It is the same players and supporters who made me feel incredible every time we played in this stadium. I did more than enough to be here but the decision was made. Chelsea moved forwards, I moved forwards. They moved on, I moved on. I keep winning important things, they keep winning something. They won an FA Cup. The most important thing is the relationship we had.
“Don’t confuse emotional control with professionalism and with desire to win. I watched Inter versus Chelsea [first leg] seven times. I did not let it run – I stopped and went back and stopped again. I have given everything to prepare for this game. Don’t confuse respect and feelings for ex-players and an ex-club with motivation to win the game. Tomorrow after the game I will still be the special one, win or lose.”
Inter travelled to London without promising young striker Mario Balotelli, although Mourinho refused to explain why he had left the player at home.