Jose Mourinho remains wary of the threat posed by Didier Drogba, as a player he calls “one of the most important” in Chelsea’s history returns to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday with the aim of knocking his former club out of the Champions League.
Drogba spent eight years at Chelsea before leaving in 2012, but not before scoring the decisive penalty to give the Blues their first European Cup. He now returns leading the line for Galatasaray and Mourinho is fully aware that even in his advanced years the Ivorian can still be a major handful.
“He's one of the most important players in the history of this club, that's in no doubt,” he said, according to Chelsea’s official website.
“All Chelsea fans would agree with that. You can't say he's the most important one because that's not fair on other people. Is he the same player at 36 than he was at 26? Nobody is, but he's one of the best strikers in the world, that's for sure.”
The last-16 tie remains firmly on a knife edge after a 1-1 result in Istanbul three weeks ago when Chelsea took the lead before being pegged by the Turkish champions in the second half.
“If you look at the result, it's 1-1,” Mourinho added. “You look at the first game, one team was better in the first half and another was better in the second, so everything is balanced.
“Normally it will be the same kind of match with the result going to the end. I don't think one team will make a result whereby people at half-time know who is going to win.”
Chelsea come into the match after their Premier League title hopes were dented by a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday. Willian and Ramires were both shown red cards at Villa Park but will be available to take on Galatasaray. Nemanja Matic is ineligible after playing for Benfica in the group stage, while Ashley Cole remains on the sidelines. However, David Luiz has returned to training.
Like their opponents, Galatasaray had a disappointing result last time out, with a goalless outcome at mid-table Karabukspor leaving them five points behind league leaders Fenerbahce and having played a game more.
Their coach Roberto Mancini will be returning to England as a manger for the first time since leaving Manchester City last summer. The Italian, though, concedes that Chelsea’s away goal gives them the slight edge.
“We showed a lot of respect for them [Chelsea] in the first 20 minutes [of the first leg], probably because we were nervous,” he said, according to UEFA.com. “The mentality is important -- the attitude that we have when we start this game. It's a good occasion for me because I have good memories of England. I did a very good job with Manchester City and I'm very happy to be back and in London in the Champions League.
“We know it will be very tough but we want to do our best. The game will be difficult for both teams, but Chelsea have a small advantage. I don't know if it will be enough to score one goal but we'll see what happens.”
Defender Semih Kaya returns to the Galatasaray squad, with only Aydin Yilmaz, Gokhan Zan and Emre Colak ruled out.
Where to watch: The second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie will kick off at 3.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Sports 1, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.