Mourinho ready to make wholesale changes for Liverpool clash
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is ready to make wholesale changes for Sunday’s crucial clash with Liverpool.
The Blues drew 0-0 with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final, but the result came at a heavy cost to the Stamford Bridge club.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech will not play again this season after suffering a shoulder injury in the first half, with captain John Terry facing a similar fate after limping out in the second period with a foot problem.
Midfield duo Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel were booked during the match, ruling them out of the second leg in west London next Wednesday.
Prior to that game, Chelsea head to Anfield looking to cut the five-point gap to Liverpool in the final three matches of the season.
But after the 2-1 home defeat to Sunderland last time out in domestic action Mourinho has admitted he now wants to prioritize his quest for continental glory, a decision which may upset Manchester City, who are still battling for the title too.
The Portuguese coach will consult the Chelsea hierarchy before deciding which players to field at Anfield, with his preference to opt for those who will not feature against Atletico next Wednesday due to the proximity of the matches.
"I can’t decide by myself," Mourinho said.
"I think that’s a decision I have to listen the club. I’m just a piece, I’m just the manager and no more than that.
"I have to listen to the club. I think the fact that the match is on Sunday I think puts the problem not in my hands.
"We represent English football and we are the only English team that is in European competition. Spain has four and gave them all the conditions to try to have success.
"I know what I would do, but I’m not the club. I have to speak with the club.
"I would play with the players that are not going to play Wednesday."
Chelsea opted for a defensive approach against Atletico and succeeded in frustrating their hosts, leaving the second leg to determine who advances to the May 24 final in Lisbon against either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich.
"We didn’t start the game thinking of a 0-0," Mourinho said. "But the game goes in a certain direction where you feel you have to be safe, don’t concede and try to score in one of the few chances you create.
"If we score one goal in one of those situations the result would be very good. We didn’t.
"We go with a result that decides everything at Stamford Bridge."
Chelsea were without Samuel Eto’o (knee) and Eden Hazard (calf) entering the match and encountered further issues in the game, with Mourinho praising the character of his players ahead of the decisive second leg.
"We had problems before the game, we had problems during the game, we lost four players during the game, two with injuries, two with yellow cards, but we will fight," he added.
"(Branislav) Ivanovic is back (from suspension), Schwarzer showed clearly that we can trust him.
"People that is not playing a lot, like for example Ashley Cole, (did an) amazing performance."
The character in adversity was reminiscent of the Chelsea side which won the 2012 trophy against the odds.
"Many years ago Chelsea started building a team with great characters, with great personalities," Mourinho said.
"In football you can use the word heritage. The people that is arriving and the young people, they see the examples, they smell that heritage and it goes on and on."