Chelsea to bring back Eto’o to face PSG
Manager Mourinho privately confident striker will be back to lead attack in Paris
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho addresses a press conference at Stamford Bridge yesterday ahead of tonight’s Uefa Champions League quarter-final second leg tie against Paris Saint-Germain in Paris. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Chelsea are ready to restore the striker Samuel Eto’o to their lineup as they seek to overturn a two-goal deficit against Paris Saint-Germain, with Jose Mourinho convinced his team will make it into the semi-finals.
The Cameroon striker, who suffered a hamstring strain in the 6-0 thrashing of Arsenal on March 22nd, played a full part in training on the eve of the second leg and is set to start against the Ligue 1 leaders.
Mourinho had feared he would be without the 33-year-old, the most prolific striker in Chelsea’s squad this season with 11 goals, but is privately confident Eto’o is fit enough to start.
The manager offered only a cautious confirmation of the forward’s availability last night.
“Fit? I don’t think he is,” Mourinho said, “but play tomorrow? Maybe. Maybe.”
Yet Eto’o, having undertaken a stretching routine with the assistant first-team coach Rui Faria yesterday morning, went on to participate in Chelsea’s training session.
Mourinho is convinced his team will prove their pedigree to prevail, despite only two clubs – Barcelona at Chelsea’s expense in 2000, and Chelsea against Napoli two years ago – having recovered from a 3-1 first leg deficit to progress in the revamped Champions League.
“PSG have what they have, we have what we have,” the manager said. “If you ask me if I think we’ll win, yes I think so. I think we are going to win, really, and, at the end of the two legs, we’ll have scored more goals than them. Pure mathematics. It’s 3-1 now, but in the end I think it can be 4-3, or 5-4 [to us]. If I don’t think that, I won’t go tomorrow. And I’m happy to go.
“We need to win. What do we need to show? The players have to show their quality, confidence, ambition . . . all these qualities which make a player play at the top level and a team to play at this level.
“I think if PSG are knocked out it will be a big disappointment for them. If we are knocked out it’s something that, at this moment, lots of people are expecting.
“That’s why I say we have to enjoy the risk of the situation. Most important is the belief, and I believe. My players believe.”
Chelsea are hampered by the suspension of Ramires, though PSG must cope without the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Mourinho said: “Ramires is suspended. [Nemanja]Matic and [Mohamed]Salah can’t play in the Champions League. And we are not crying. So the fact that a multimillionaire club that buys players and players doesn’t play one important player like Ibrahimovic? I don’t think it is a problem.”
Yet PSG, 13 points clear in Ligue 1, represent daunting opponents regardless. They have won a club record 11 games in succession in all competitions and will be confident of registering their own reward at Stamford Bridge.
They have failed to score only once in 46 matches this season, against Evian in a league fixture in early December.
That game was the only occasion in 110 fixtures in which they have been beaten by two clear goals.
PSG, who will switch Edinson Cavani to a central role to replace Ibrahimovic, are ready to endure a furious opening from their hosts. “We’ve not come here to let Chelsea dominate us and make us suffer,” said their manager, Laurent Blanc. “Our best approach is to create chances. We don’t want them dictating.
“A top team should be able to dominate a game even away from home, and taking the game to the opposition is the best way to win trophies.
“This competition is one of our targets. It’s a little over two years since our [Qatari]owners arrived, and they’ve shown a lot of ambition since. At domestic level they want to win everything, which is only right given the level of their investment.
“In Europe the objective is to win the Champions League as soon as possible, that’s clear but they recognise it’s a trophy that’s very difficult to win.”