Valencia striker Fernando Morientes believes now is a good time to meet Chelsea, especially if the Blues skipper John Terry misses Wednesday night’s encounter through injury.
The two sides meet at the Mestalla on Wednesday, with Terry an injury doubt after fracturing his cheekbone during Chelsea’s goalless draw with Fulham at the weekend.
“Without John Terry we can win more balls in the air but while we are looking to exploit their weaknesses Chelsea will be looking to do the same to us and we must take care,” said Morientes.
The centre-forward has met Chelsea in the Champions League for the past three seasons; as a cup-tied Liverpool player who watched his team’s semi-final victory in 2005, in the group stages the following year and in last season’s quarter-final second leg when he opened the scoring for Valencia at Mestalla.
“I don’t think Chelsea’s problems are confined to defence,” he says. “Jose Mourinho has gone and that is sure to have a big effect on them and it will take time for the new coach to implement his ideas, and now Terry is injured.
“Not only that but they will be facing a Valencia team that has won its last five games and is starting to find its best form of the season. This game is coming at a very good moment for us, but it would be wrong to rely on Chelsea’s problems. They still have a lot of good individuals but they are not the team of the last few years.
“We were all very impressed with Chelsea last year and because of what happened at the Mestalla we are hoping for revenge,” Morientes admitted. “They are a hard team and they still have great technique in midfield and the best centre-forward in the world in Didier Drogba. This is the key game in the group for us.”
Morientes also spoke of his disappointing spell at Liverpool, where he failed to make much of an impact under compatriot Rafa Benitez.
“My two biggest problems at Liverpool were that I never felt I found my best form throughout my time there and I never felt comfortable with the style of play in England,” he said. “Moving to Valencia helped improve my performances and my personal situation, but I don’t regret joining Liverpool. Not at all. Personally it was a very successful time but professionally it was the complete opposite.
“The English league is physically stronger than any other league in Europe and the style of play is much different, too. You don’t have as many touches on the ball in England as you get here. Here you have more time to make the play, that was the main difference that struck me when I joined Liverpool.”