First place in Group G as well as national pride is at stake when Chelsea entertain Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho says he is undecided whether coming first or second in the group actually matters.
“Juventus or Bayern Munich – I don’t feel there is a big difference, and there are other examples,” he said. “Do you prefer to play against Real Madrid or Lyonnais? In almost every group this is the picture.
“If you win the group your first game in the next round is away, whereas if you finish second your first game is at home. Again I don’t see a big difference. So I just look at the game as an opportunity to win.
“As for the consequences of the result, I don’t see any. Unless you next play a team without much experience in the Champions League, like Artmedia, the draw will be very dark, you don’t know what will happen.”
Mourinho may be keen to eradicate the memory of last season’s semi-final defeat to Liverpool. Although Chelsea beat their rivals 4-1 in the league this season, matches between the teams have usually been tight.
“In the past we could not score against them and they could not score against us,” Mourinho added.
“When Liverpool play against us they adapt and use three players in the centre of midfield to try and control the defensive side of the game. They are very organised.”
With qualification guaranteed, Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez will rest midfielder Xabi Alonso, while Jerzy Dudek and Boudewijn Zenden have remained in Liverpool.
“We have a better squad and can manage each game better,” said Benitez. “Last term we did not have a big squad and with lots of injuries there were many difficulties for us.”
Mourinho has no such flexibility: Hernán Crespo, Joe Cole, Claude Makelele and Glen Johnson are all missing through injury, leaving him with only 18 available players.
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