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By Football Talk.

Chelsea are back in champions league action tonight, away at the San Siro to play Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan. This will be the first time Mourinho will manage against his former team, where he won back-to-back titles before leaving due to differences with owner Roman Abramovich. What a game this should be.

Mourinho was a love-him or hate-him kind of character, but there was no doubt the Chelsea players loved him. He formed great relationships with Terry, Lampard, Drogba and Cole. They were gutted when he left. John Terry confirmed just what Jose meant to the players in a recent interview.

“He is the Special One,” he said. “Jose was the first one who referred to us as ‘his’ players. He brought us together with that.

“Mourinho was an overnight success with the players. When he arrived we were a nearly team. We’d finished as Premier League runners- up and not really got there.

“But he made a team out of a bunch of individuals and didn’t care whether people liked us.

“Jose gave us that mentality of ‘us against the rest’ and it helped bind us together.

He left his mark on English football will his colourful press conferences and erratic behaviour. His time so far in Italy has been just as entertaining with live on-air arguments with reporters, public disputes with the owners and a recent ‘handcuff’ gesture has landed him a 3-match touchline ban.

Mourinho will have to use all of his inside knowledge to contain Chelsea though, as the Londoners are favourites to progress. A home win is a must for Inter Milan as well as keeping a clean sheet. A big ask considering they face one of Europe’s most deadly strikers in Didier Drogba not to mention Nicolas Anelka, Frank Lampard, etc.

Inter have a handy strike-force themselves in Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito so Chelsea will have to defend well to stifle them. No doubt Carlo Ancelotti will look to hit Inter on the counter-attack in search of that all-important away goal but if Chelsea leave with a clean-sheet they will be happy.

The return of John Terry will be important and he has said he is staying focused despite all of his off-field problems.

“I’m on a mission and nothing is going to distract me,” a resolute Terry told The Sun.

“I’m responding by doing what I’ve always done – by looking straight ahead. I’ve got broad shoulders and nobody’s going to knock me out of my stride.

“I want to win the Champions League and Premier League for Chelsea and help win the World Cup for England.

Terry, who famously missed a penalty against Manchester United that would have won Chelsea the champions league in 2008, says he wont rest until he has won the trophy for the Chelsea fans.

“There’s a shirt on my wall at home – the shirt I wore when I missed that penalty against Manchester United in the Champions League final.

“It’s there as a daily reminder to me of what I’m striving for. I won’t rest until it’s replaced by a winner’s shirt – that’s my pledge to every Chelsea fan who has stood by me and still believes in me as a player and as their club’s captain.

“They have been brilliant, their support has been overwhelming and I desperately want to give them the glory they deserve.

I can see Chelsea scoring tonight so unless Inter get three in reply, Chelsea will go into the second leg in decent shape. Carlo Ancelotti is a tactician and a master at negotiating his way through the champions league. Of course Mourinho has his own winners medal from his Porto days, but Chelsea’s squad is too strong and will have enough to dispose of Inter over two legs.

The ‘special one’ usually has a lot to say in the build-up to a big game like this but he has been relatively quiet for him. This could either be a mark of respect for Chelsea or that he knows deep they are too good for his current club to handle. It’s probably a bit of both.

Team news

Terry’s return couldn’t have come at a better time as Chelsea are without a recognised left-back with Ashley Cole out with a serious ankle injury and Yuri Zhirkov has a calf injury. There have been rumours that Terry has been training at left back ahead of tonight’s game, but i doubt Chelsea’s best central defender will be shifted to full-back. Juliano Belletti is more likely to slot in.

Alex and Frank Lampard are back in contention after missing the win over Wolves. But Jose Bosingwa, Michael Essien and Deco (all knee) all remain sidelined.

Inter Milan goalkeeper Julio Cesar was in a car accident over the weekend but is expected to play. Cristian Chivu and David Santon are both out, so Javier Zanetti will play at left-back.

Mario Balotelli has recovered from injury and is in contention, although it is expected that Eto’o and Millito will start.


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