Match Preview: Chelsea v Inter Milan




Stamford Bridge, England
March 16, 2010

Ever since the draw for the Champions League round of sixteen was made, one fixture stood out from the rest. It was the clash between Chelsea and Internazionale Milano, which guaranteed Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge on the 16th of March. The day has arrived; Mourinho’s Inter will come to England with the fixture almost evenly poised after the Italian team’s 2-1 win over Chelsea at San Siro in the first leg. The pressure will be immense on both managers, as they were both appointed to win the same trophy – UEFA Champions League. Inter is the last flag bearer of Italy left in the competition after Carlo Ancelotti’s previous team was ruthlessly shown the door by Manchester United, and they will be yearning to replicate their league success in Europe. Chelsea has come excruciatingly close to lifting the trophy on more than one occasion, but it has continued to elude them.


After the 1st leg at San Siro, Chelsea has played three matches, all at home, wherein it was humbled by Manchester City 4-2, while it defeated Stoke and West Ham United. Jose Mourinho’s return will be overwhelming for the players, as well as the fans, but Carlo Ancelotti must ensure that it does not affect their game. Ancelotti will be keen to defeat Jose at his erstwhile fortress and finally facilitate Chelsea’s emergence from the shadows of The Special One.

Injury update: Petr Cech, Henrique Hilario, Ashley Cole, Deco, Jose Bosinwa and Michael Essien are unavailable for this all important fixture. Yuri Zhirkov has returned from injury and is expected start at left-back. Ricardo Carvalho has regained fitness and will be available for selection.

Suspension update: No player is suspended. Soloman Kalou will miss the next match if booked.

Squad update: Zhirkov’s return will allow Malouda, who is going through his best spell as a Chelsea player, to play further up-field. Ross Turnbull, after a confidence-boosting display against the Hammers, will be the custodian for Chelsea.

Predicted Line-up: Carvalho’s availability has put Ancelotti in a dilemma – he has to choose between the inconsistent Portuguese or Alex.  After the City game, Alex has partnered John Terry in the centre of defence and Chelsea has regained the lost stability. The diamond formation will not be used in the absence of Michael Essien and Ashley Cole, and Chelsea will play in the following ‘Christmas Tree’ formation.


Ivanovic           Alex          Terry           Zhirkov


Ballack                      Lampard

Anelka              Malouda


From Chelsea’s corner: The Blues got the all important away goal in Italy, and will have to go into the match with a plan in place to score one or two early goals, defend with discipline and try to score on the counter. Getting a goal early is important to put pressure on Inter, and Ancelotti will depend on his main man Didier Drogba, to put the ball in the back of the net. Mikel will have a crucial role to play – keeping Wesley Sneijder in check. Alex, if he plays, will have to deal with the dangerous Milito.

Internazionale Milano

Inter couldn’t have had a worse preparation for this game. Whether it was fatigue or whether the players were mentally in London already, but a team about to play the biggest game of the season ended up suffering its worst defeat of the season. Jose Mourinho’s absence from the technical area was badly felt as Orialli failed to make proper substitutions. His return back in the conductors area will probably be the key.

Mourinho had made a statement that he doesn’t lose at Stamford Bridge, but Inter managed to create history by losing to Catania this weekend for the first time in 44 years.

Injury update: Christian Chivu is back and is playing with a protective helmet, just like the one worn by Cech. Santon is fit, but it is highly doubtful that Mourinho will throw either of them in the deep end in their comeback game.

Suspension update: The entire first choice backline of Maicon, Samuel, Lucio and Zanetti are just a yellow away from earning a suspension for next game.

Squad Update: Balotelli and Jose Mourinho had the latest of their innumerable feuds last week, leading to his absence from the squad facing Catania. However he is on the plane headed for London. He is most likely to start on the bench and will be brought on depending on the score line.

Predicted Line up: Leading 2-1, Mourinho surprised all of us by trying to go for the jugular and introducing Balotelli. Though it didn’t result in a goal, his pace caused lots of problems for Chelsea backline. Mourinho is expected to start with his first choice XI and introduce subs based on the situation.


Maicon   Samuel   Lucio  Zanetti

Stankovic  Cambiasso  Mariga


Eto’o           Milito

From Inter Milan’s corner: This is a game between two teams having very similar strengths and weaknesses. They have extremely tight defenses capable of shutting out the best of opponents. The first goal will be the key to the entire game.

  • I think Inter fans can afford to show a little more optimism! I believe it’s the Italians who head into this clash, the stronger of the two sides. The game against Catania was just a tiny blip in a fantastic run of form. If Inter score, the have the resources to defend all day.

    Chelsea’s backline is injury-ravaged, and the seemingly solid centre-back pairing of Terry and Alex have not yet been tested in the real sense. Yet I think The Blues will deal with Ballotelli well enough, since they seem to counter obvious threats well.

    I would prefer a 4-3-3 formation for Chelsea. An xmas tree setup might be attack-minded, but it will severely hamper us on the wings. Malouda needs to play on the extremity, as opposed to a tertiary striker.

  • Arvind

    I wish Inter fans can be optimistic for this one. Over past 4 weeks, they have watched their seemingly insurmountable lead at the top of the league whittled down to just 1 point.

    Now the bad news . Balotelli hasn’t traveled with Inter party. His 1001st fight with JoMo means he spends Tuesday night watching the game on TV. That means Quaresma, who surprisingly was a shining light on Friday might be used as super sub.

    The defense will be the key and that is the reason I believe the first goal might be the decider. Both teams have good resources to prevent the other from scoring and hitting them on the counter.

    My cheeky bet would be a 2-1, extra time and penalties.

  • Somnath

    Chelsea losing both goal keepers might make all the difference at the end…

  • Howard Roark

    JM said ‘I do not lose at the Stamford Bridge’, but my dear Jose the fact is ‘Chelsea does not lose when you are at the Bridge.’

    Bring it on, special one!

  • Arvind

    @ Howard
    Lets hope both Jose and Chelsea are correct. Let neither of them lose.

    I guess Inter fans will not be too upset if that happens :-)

  • Howard Roark

    Good one Arvind 😉

    I just cannot wait for the match to start.

  • @ Sanish

    4-3-2-1 or the ‘Christmas Tree’ can be quickly changed to a 4-3-3 depending on the situation.

    In Carlito, we trust.

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  • I stopped watching after 3-1, and then came back to the TV to see Lambrad score the 7th Goal. Disgrace

  • Yuri Zhirkov has finally started coming good for Chelsea, after injuries and settling in. He looks like a class act – especially when playing alongside Terry and Ashley Cole! Bringon 2010/11!