The Champions League will feature a hotly contested tie between Italian champions Inter and English club Chelsea. There are many story-lines beyond Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge as the winner of this Round of 16 clash should have safe passage to the semi-finals where European champions Barcelona will likely be waiting. Below are some of the intriguing features offered by this much anticipated clash:
– England vs Italy: With a number of Italian Coaches managing English clubs (R. Mancini at Manchester City, C. Ancelotti at Chelsea, and G. Zola at West Ham United) and Fabio Capello in charge of England the comparison between the English Premier League and the Italian Serie A has taken another twist. Critics point to the fact the Premiership is attracting more viewership worldwide and are backed by the financial muscle of some of the English clubs (Chelsea and Man. City) but they should not overlook the tight race for European places in Italy as well as the superior technical approach of the weaker Italian clubs (compared to the weaker English sides). Milan and Liverpool went head-to-head twice in the final and it is all square despite the fact the Liverpool win was a miraculous one.
-Ancelotti vs Mourinho: Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho are not exactly on the best of terms. While in Italy, Ancelotti was in charge of Milan and had a tense public relationship with Inter’s Mourinho. The rivalry between the two only gets worse considering Ancelotti is now at the helm in Stamford Bridge which deep inside must surely irritate Mourinho who really did not want to leave Chelsea.
– Abramovich vs Moratti: Both club presidents are desperate for European success with Massimo Morattisupposedly letting go of Roberto Mancini for failing to bring the prestigious trophy to Milan while hiring Mourinho for the sake of winning the Champions League. Interestingly, Roman Abramovich fired Mourinho due to a number of factors but mainly used the inability of the Portuguese Coach to win in Europe as his reason. Abramovich wants to bring the European trophy to Stamford Bridge for the first time while Moratti wants to win the Champions League after a dry spell of more than four decades.
-Drobga vs Eto’o: Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba and Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o are considered two of the most dangerous and lethal attackers in the world. Both hail from the African continent and they will be aiming to show who is the best goal scorer from Africa. Eto’o currently has the edge in terms of honours having won the Champions League on two occasions with Barcelona while Drogba has yet to win in Europe. Drogba has been in stunning form for his club scoring 17 goals in 20 league appearances while Eto’o has 8 goals in 17 matches in Serie A.
Both clubs are leading their respective league table and have plenty of talent with players such as Frank Lampard and Drogba on Chelsea’s squad compared to Inter’s Wesley Sneijder and Eto’o. Will Mourinho’s desire to put one over his old club drive the Nerazzurri players to overcome Chelsea or will Abramovich prove his decision to fire Mourinho is vindicated on route to winning in Europe?