John Terry is fully fit and ready to have a chance to make it third time lucky in a Champions League final. The Chelsea skipper has recovered ahead of schedule from an ankle injury suffered in the first leg of his side’s semifinal at Atletico Madrid last week and is set to start in the return match at Stamford Bridge with the tie still goalless.
Terry has experienced four agonizing exits at the semifinal stage of the competition in his career, while the two finals he has made were also tinged with varying degrees of regret. In 2008, Terry had the chance to win the Champions League but slipped and missed his crucial penalty in Moscow, allowing Manchester United to come back and win the shootout. When Chelsea did finally lift the trophy in 2012, Terry was suspended after being sent off in the second leg of their semifinal win over Barcelona.
"For a long time I used it as motivation," he said of the shirt he wore in the 2008 final, according to UEFA.com. "When we won it [in 2012] I took it down and it went into the loft and another one replaced it. Disappointing memories, but when you go on to win it, happy memories tend to outweigh those.
"[Despite being suspended in 2012] it did mean a lot to me that night, playing or not playing. I felt I contributed. That's a different story. Throughout that campaign, I'd had surgery on my knee before the Napoli game and came back really quickly, scored a goal and played a big part. I did have a big part to play in the dressing room and on the field of play as well.”
While coach Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Terry will start, he was not so forthcoming on whether the Eden Hazard would be in the lineup following the Belgian’s return to training after a calf injury. Samuel Eto’o is also back in training, but Petr Cech will not feature despite being seen during Tuesday’s session. Frank Lampard and John Mikel Obi are suspended.
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Atletico will be missing their influential midfielder and captain Gabi after he too picked up a booking in the first leg. While Terry and Chelsea have become familiar with this late stage of the competition in recent years, it is Atletico’s first time in the semifinals for 40 years. It has been a remarkable rise for the club under Diego Simeone, who led them to the Europa League title in his first season in charge and to the Copa del Rey in his second. He now has Atletico on the verge of a first La Liga title since he was part of the side that win it in 1996, but the Argentinian has no appetite to reflect on what has already been achieved.
“I'm not focusing on where we are at the moment,” he said, reports UEFA.com. “I just want us to keep moving forward, not on what we've achieved. I usually let you guys talk about the progress we've undertaken in the last three years of success, but I'm not comparing Atletico Madrid with Chelsea, a team who won the Champions League two years ago. In the end the best team will win. With our hard work and our enthusiasm, we can do well and maybe get a positive result.”
Coverage details: Fox Sports 1 will provide full coverage of the buildup to the match beginning at 2 p.m. ET, with kickoff at 2.45 p.m. A live stream will be available via Fox Soccer 2Go.