Chelsea will return to the comforts of their Stamford Bridge ground on Tuesday night to contest a crucial Champions League Round of 16 second leg against Galatasaray.
The Londoners were left seething after a 1-0 weekend defeat to Aston Villa in the Premier League which saw two of their players sent off as well as manager Jose Mourinho being sent to the stands. It was a result that could have a big bearing on the outcome of the title race, but now Chelsea must concentrate on Europe as the Turkish giants come to town.
Mourinho will be wary of the threat Chelsea’s opponents offer knowing first-hand the qualities of players such as Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder, the Portuguese commenting on the Ivorian: “Is he the same player at 36 years old as he was at 26? Nobody is, but he is certainly still one of the best strikers in the world.”
Galatasaray will also have an extra 24 hours of rest having played their latest league match on Friday. That is something that Mourinho noted and believes that English clubs are being held back in Europe due to television scheduling.
"If we played on Friday night, it makes a difference to who? It'd be a full house, the same", said Mourinho. "If it was the only match on TV, the [audience] share would be fantastic. Would it be good for Chelsea? Yes. Would it be good for English football? Yes."
Galatasaray come to London with little pressure or expectation on their shoulders to advance to the next round of the tournament. The Turkish club will be the big underdogs and many would deem it a shock if they were able to knockout Chelsea. That said, the first leg showed that Galatasaray can stand toe to toe with the Blues.
Fernando Torres’ 9th minute goal in the first leg suggested that Chelsea would waltz through the tie, but Aurelien Chedjou's equaliser means that Roberto Mancini’s men have a fighting chance in the return. The Turkish side are coming off a disappointing 0-0 draw with midtable Karabukspor on Friday. That result could be crucial in Mancini’s team winning back-to-back Turkish Super Lig titles as they now sit five points behind city rivals Fenerbahce who also have a game in hand.
The story on Tuesday night will be very much about Drogba’s return to his former club. He stated this week that he believes it will be a special night going back to his former stomping ground.
“I hope that Galatasaray qualify. It will be difficult. But I think that regarding the welcome, I think I'm allowed to say that I will receive a warm welcome, because I know Chelsea's fans and our relationship is really special. It will be great to see them again, I am looking forward to it”, said the Ivory Coast striker.
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