The old romance of Drogba and Chelsea will be on display when the latter clashes with Galatasaray in their Champions League contest
We know him well and that means there will be no friends during the game. We have respect for a real legend of this club before and after the game, but we have a job to do —Jose Mourinhob Chelsea Manager
Istanbul: Chelsea renew acquaintances with former hero Didier Drogba and an old rival in Roberto Mancini when they go to Istanbul to take on Galatasaray for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.
Drogba was the hero of Chelsea’s 2012 final victory against Bayern Munich, scoring a late equaliser to force extra-time and then netting the decisive penalty in the shoot-out that followed. But the powerful Ivorian centre-forward was also one of the cornerstones of Jose Mourinho’s first spell in charge at Stamford Bridge, with the pair arriving at the same time in 2004.
“It’s a strange feeling,” Mourinho said, having previously expressed a wish that the clubs would come out of the hat together before the draw was made.”We know him well and that means there will be no friends during the game. We have respect for a real legend of this club before the game and after the game, but we have a job to do.
“It’s in his nature to win and to score, but we have to stop him.” For Mourinho, coming up against Drogba is nothing new – his Real Madrid side beat Galatasaray 5-3 on aggregate in last season’s quarter-finals despite Drogba scoring for the Turks.
The tie will also see the Chelsea manager come up against Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder, who was the driving force of his Inter side that won the Champions League in 2010 and moved to Istanbul last year. There is also the enticing prospect of seeing Mourinho in direct confrontation with Mancini, the man he replaced as coach of Inter in 2008, and the man who locked horns with the London club during his tenure at Manchester City.
Beyond the sub-plots, though, Sneijder believes Galatasaray’s inside knowledge on Mourinho’s methods gives them a good chance of springing a surprise. “Mourinho knows us well and that is an advantage but the same applies for us, we know Mourinho very well, perhaps better than the Chelsea players know us,” said the 29-year-old, who also told Turkish media that his former mentor had called him immediately after December’s last-16 draw.
Chelsea did not exactly convince en route to winning their Champions League group ahead of Schalke 04 and Basel, losing both meetings with the Swiss side.However, without the distraction of European football over the winter, they have emerged as serious contenders to win the Premier League title, a 12-match unbeaten run putting them top of the table, a point ahead of Arsenal. -AFP