After a welcome return to winning ways at Anfield on Sunday, Chelsea will play host to La Liga leaders Atlético Madrid Wednesday evening at Stamford Bridge in the second leg of this years UEFA Champions League semifinal.
Despite fielding a squad of players who will most likely not feature against Atlético tomorrow, the Blues won away at Anfield and put a large dent in the Red’s title hopes. Liverpool fans have taken offense to the manner in which the match was played despite many pundits, including one of their own (SkySports presenter Jamie Carragher) reminding them that many of their triumphs of the past were accomplished playing a very similar style of direct football.
Ahead of what is now the biggest match of the season, Chelsea got a morale boost from the win at Anfield and all the players are together with one goal: to win the Champions League. In training today, John Terry and Petr Cech joined the first team, despite both having doubts (or being downright out of contention) for a spot on the field or bench come kickoff prior to today. Manager Mourinho says this is because “everybody is ready. That’s the message we wanted to give.”
Everybody was on the pitch – suspended players, ineligible players, injured players. It’s a very important match for our group. Everybody is together, everybody wants to help, and everybody wants to play.” – CFC Manager Jose Mourinho
While Cech is certainly out, the manager was pleased to announce that club captain John Terry will be starting tomorrow in his normal centre-back position. Mourinho had high praise for his captain, saying he was on the same form this season as he was when Mourinho left the club in 2007-2008.
Atléti maintained their lead in La Liga by winning 1-0 away at Valencia Sunday, meaning they sit 4 points clear of Barcelona and 6 points clear of crosstown rivals Real Madrid, who we learned today will be waiting in Lisbon for whichever team emerges victorious tomorrow.
As stated previously John Terry returns from the knock he sustained in the first leg against Atlético, he will start in central defense wearing the captains armband. Even better news, Belgian superstar Eden Hazard has been declared match fit, it is up to the manager whether he will see the pitch tomorrow. Frank Lampard and John Mikel Obi are suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards, while Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah remain ineligible for selection (Cup-tied to SL Benefica and FC Basel respectively.) Petr Cech is still out with a shoulder injury, despite joining the squad in training today. Samuel Eto’o also trained with the first team today, seemingly recovered from a knee injury.
Predicted Starting XI:
Off the use of the 4-3-3 in the last 2 matches, I’m going to give 2 possible lineups for this match, one for the 4-2-3-1 that we’ve run a majority of this season, and another for the 4-3-3.
Thanks to return from injuries, however, I think we will see the 4-2-3-1 formation again. Eto’o may lead the line again, but with his connections to Atletico and how well he performed against them last week, I think we will see Fernando Torres up front.
Remember whatever happens tomorrow to always Keep the Blue Flag Flying High.
Follow us on Twitter at @PrideOLondon
Like us on Facebook at The Pride of London