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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Felipe Scolari: we must win over Bordeaux to continue in the Champions League

Chelsea Portuguese boss Luis Felipe Scolari underlined the importance of beating Bordeaux on Wednesday to seal their seventh straight appearance in the Champions League knockout stages with a game to spare.

The charismatic Brazilian proffesor knows last season's beaten finalists came unstuck in their last away game at italian AS Roma when they were thumped 3-1 and is not taking the French outsiders lightly.

"We really need to qualify either tomorrow or against Cluj and reach the second round," he told a press conference here Tuesday.

"As we know, we had a chance against Roma and now we have a second chance. Myself and the players cannot wait for more chances and tomorrow (Wednesday) is the day."

The 60-year-old played down the defeat in Italy and says the group is still wide open with just a one point lead on Roma and Bordeaux with Cluj still in the hunt three points adrift.

"The clash against Roma was a time when they were in crisis and it was a game that if they lost they were out of the competition. They played better than us 100 per cent.

"Look, what I know about French Bordeaux is that they have very good players and the result in the first match was not a normal result.

"I know they are in fifth or sixth in France and they didn't start the competition very well but they have played well since and we respect this team and more. They have six points and we have only seven so there is no difference."

In fact, the Girondins have been hit by the late withdrawal of first choice goalkeeper Ulrich Rame who failed to recover from a hamstring injury which means the gloves will be handed to 25-year-old Matthieu Valverde.

We must mention that Bordeaux are coming off back to back victories over Romanian newcomers CFR Cluj which has lifted them back into contention for a spot in the final 16 but have never beaten English opposition at home in European play.

They were beaten by powerful Manchester United 2-1 in the 1999-2000 Champions League group phase and also lost 1-0 to Liverpool in the 2006-07 pool stage as well.

Their only point at home in European action came way back in the first round of the 1997-98 UEFA Cup first round when they battled Aston Villa to a 1-1 stalemate.

Scolari also made it clear his squad are not thinking about Sunday's showdown with Arsenal in a top of the table Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge and says qualification is crucial and not especially winning the group.

"Myself and the players will not think about Arsenal FC until after the game tomorrow. If we start thinking about Arsenal, we might lose tomorrow.

"In fact, if we have the second leg in the Champions League at home in the next round that it's great but there are two things.

"In the past teams have won the second leg away from home and other times the home team has won but there is not a big difference. The most important thing is to qualify."

In-form French forward Nicolas Anelka hopes to carry his hot touch in the Premier League onto the European stage where he has been misfiring so far in the competition.

"I may be need a bit of luck but the important thing is that we get the win and that the team pick up the three points or at least a draw," said the French forward.

"I know that the match tomorrow will be a lot different from the first match at Stamford Bridge (Chelsea won 4-0) and we are expecting a very tough encounter."

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Didier Drogba talks with Inter Milan

Explosive forward Didier Drogba's Chelsea future has become surrounded in doubt, with the Blues striker understood to have held discussions with officials at Serie A club Inter Milan, according to a news website.

The popular Drogba is understood to have met with Nerazzurri coach Jose Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes and Marco Branca the technical director at the San Siro along with his powerful agent Pierre Frelot at a restaurant in West London.

As we know, former Stamford Bridge manager Mourinho was a huge influence on Drogba, while at Chelsea and had been heavily linked with a move to bring the former Marseille striker to Inter in the summer. However, Drogba, who is currently serving a three-match ban for throwing a coin in the Carling Cup defeat to Burnley, remained at the Premier League side.

Jose Mourinho has an abundance of striker’s at the San Siro, with Hernan Crespo, Adriano, Mario Balotelli, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Julio Cruz and Victor Obinna all fighting for a starting berth upfront for Inter. Despite this Mourinho is expected to offload brazilian Adriano in January, with Balotelli a reported target for Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea, while Crespo never made the grade under Mourinho at the Blues.

We must notice that young striker Obinna had been heavily linked with a loan move to Everton in the summer, but this didn’t materialise due to work permit problems and this deal could be resurrected in January, which if as Mourinho has stated recently that some forward’s will leave Inter in January then the path would be clear for Inter to sign Didier Drogba, who would be keen on a reunion with his former boss.

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Chelsea 2008/2009 Squad

1 GK Petr Čech
2 DF Branislav Ivanović
3 DF Ashley Cole
5 MF Michael Essien
6 DF Ricardo Carvalho
8 MF Frank Lampard (vice-captain)
9 FW Franco di Santo
10 MF Joe Cole
11 FW Didier Drogba
12 MF John Mikel Obi
13 MF Michael Ballack
15 MF Florent Malouda
16 FW Scott Sinclair
17 DF José Bosingwa
18 DF Wayne Bridge
19 DF Paulo Ferreira
20 MF Deco
21 FW Salomon Kalou
23 GK Carlo Cudicini
26 DF John Terry (captain)
27 MF Mineiro
33 DF Alex
35 MF Juliano Belletti
39 FW Nicolas Anelka
40 GK Henrique Hilário
43 FW Miroslav Stoch
44 MF Michael Woods

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