Chelsea have received a major injury boost ahead of the second leg of their Champions League semifinal tie with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday. Captain John Terry, as well as the club’s two top scorers this season, Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto’o, all took part in training on Tuesday and are expected to take their place in the starting lineup at Stamford Bridge.
Terry’s return is perhaps the biggest surprise, with the central defender initially feared to be out until a possible Champions League final at the end of May after injuring his ankle during the goalless draw Madrid last week. Instead, Chelsea will now be able to field their remarkably consistent first-choice defense.
“He starts tomorrow, of course,” Mourinho said of Terry, according to Chelsea’s official website. “My captain is playing at the same level he was playing at when I left Chelsea in 2007. It's as simple as that. Six or seven years later he's playing again at his best level. It's fair to say that. 'It's also fair to say the people that surround him, on his left and his right, and in front of him, are also playing fantastically. His partnership with Cahill is fantastic and the people that work together in the same areas are doing a very good job.”
Although Petr Cech was at training on Tuesday, Mourinho confirmed that the goalkeeper, who dislocated his shoulder in the first leg, has no chance of returning in time
“Obviously his condition doesn't allow him to play but everybody is ready,” he explained. “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.”
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Chelsea’s attack will also receive a major boost. Hazard has been out since being forced off with a calf injury in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal win over Paris Saint-Germain three weeks ago. With 16 goals to his name this season, the man voted PFA Young Player of the Year on Sunday has the creativity and goal-scoring ability that could be vital in a match between two resilient defenses. Eto’o’s return will help similarly. All 12 of the three-time Champions League winner’s goals for Chelsea have come at Stamford Bridge.
It is in midfield where Jose Mourinho’s options are severely depleted. John Mikel Obi and Frank Lampard will both be suspended having picked up yellow cards in the first leg. Fellow midfielder Nemanja Matic is suspended, as is winger Mohamed Salah. It is likely to mean Ramires and David Luiz lining up in central midfield, with the out-of-form Oscar playing ahead of them, flanked by Hazard and Willian.
Atletico Madrid may just have one absentee, but it is a major one. Like Lampard and Mikel, a booking for their influential captain Gabi a week ago means he will be forced to watch the action from the sidelines at Stamford Bridge. The 30-year-old has started every one of Atletico’s matches in this season’s Champions League as they have reached the semifinal stage of the competition for the first time in 40 years, but his unavailability means that former Chelsea man Tiago will be expected to start alongside Mario Suarez in the heart of the midfield.
With a settled back line, Diego Simeone’s main selection dilemmas, as usual, come in who to select to support Diego Costa in attack. Those roles went to Koke, Diego and Raul Garcia in the first leg, but the now-fit Arda Turan and David Villa will be pushing for a place.
D: Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta
M: Ramires, Luiz
Willian, Oscar, Hazard
D: Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Luis
M: Arda, Tiago, Suarez, Koke
Where to watch: The second leg of the Champions League semifinal will kick off at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Sports 1, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.