Chelsea have been strongly tipped to crush Inter Milan tonight. Anybody with this opinion needs to stop in their tracks; Inter are too strong to be walked over.
The Blues have a bit of an injury crisis going into the first-leg tie which Carlo Ancelotti could seriously do without. Ashley Cole is out for the next three months and Yury Zhirkov has a calf strain which will rule him out tonight and possibly this weekend aswell. With Juliano Belleti and Alex also too-unfit to play, the left-back berth is set to be filled by either Branislav Ivanovich or Jeffrey Bruma.
Ivanovich is less likely to start there as his services could well be required at right-back, which means 18 year-old Bruma could start for only the fourth time in a Chelsea shirt at the Guiseppe de Meazza.
The expected Inter line-up is as follows: Cesar, Zanetti, Maicon, Samuel, Lucio, Cambiasso, Stankovich, Muntari, Sneijder, Eto’o, Milito.
It is a strong team which at its best, can dominate any opponent. Any one who saw a ten-man Inter beat their arch-rivals AC Milan 2-0 earlier in the season will know just how well-drilled Mourinho has I Nerazzurri. The Italian team have taken a lot of criticism in the past three years for their poor performances in the Champions League; a win tonight though would go a long way to restoring Milanese faith.
Jose Mourinho won two titles at Chelsea before he left in 2007. Frank Lampard and Joe Cole blossomed under the Portugese manager. Tonight’s match will be a heated, keenly fought-over affair.
Inter will not be walked over though and with four strikers such as Eto’o, Milito, Pandev and Balotelli, the boys in Blue and Black definitely have goals in them.
By Ross A. Fox