Jose Mourinho believes our Champions League game against Galatasaray at Stamford Bridge tomorrow, with a place in the quarter-finals at stake, is firmly poised, with the Chelsea manager expecting a similar contest to the game which ended 1-1 in Istanbul.
The away goal which gave us the lead on that particular night, scored by Fernando Torres, could yet prove pivotal in shaping the outcome of the tie.
Roberto Mancini’s side have never won on English soil, but having lost just once in their last 23 matches across all competitions, Mourinho doesn’t envisage there being much to choose between the teams.
‘If you look at the result, it’s 1-1,’ he said. ‘You look at the first game, one team was better in the first half and another was better in the second, so everything is balanced.
‘Normally it will be the same kind of match with the result going to the end. I don’t think one team will make a result whereby people at half-time know who is going to win.’
Nullifying the threat posed by Didier Drogba could go a long way to ensuring the Blues secure our progression in a competition Mourinho has won twice previously, first with Porto in 2004 and again with Inter in 2010.
Naturally, having brought the Ivorian to Stamford Bridge back in 2004, Mourinho was full of praise for a player he shares a special bond with.
‘He’s one of the most important players in the history of this club, that’s in no doubt,’ explained the Portuguese.
‘All Chelsea fans would agree with that. You can’t say he’s the most important one because that’s not fair on other people. Is he the same player at 36 than he was at 26? Nobody is, but he’s one of the best strikers in the world, that’s for sure.’
Mourinho refused to be drawn on whether or not he would work with Drogba in a playing role once again, but feels a return to Stamford Bridge for the striker, in some capacity, could be a possibility in the future.
‘Tomorrow is a big game and I don’t think it’s the right moment to speak about that,’ he said. ‘He’s a Galatasaray player, we know he is a free agent and finishes his contract at the end of the season but we don’t think this is the time to speak about it.
‘The important thing is that it’s not me, its Chelsea, and it has to happen one day. When a person represents so much to a club, and a club represents so much to a person, and that is the case, I think he has to come back.’
Of course, Drogba isn’t the only Galatasaray player capable of causing the Blues problems and, in Wesley Sneijder, who worked under Mourinho during his time at Inter, they possess, according to the Blues boss, ‘one of the best number 10s in the world.’
Mourinho, who will be hoping his side can bounce back from Saturday’s defeat at Aston Villa, ended by expressing his admiration for Turkish footballers in general.
‘I like lots of them but I don’t think about them,’ he said. ‘Turkish football pays a lot to the players, sometimes it looks like Financial Fair Play doesn’t work there, and we can’t compete with the salaries. I have an eye, I know them all and there are some good players.’