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16.12.2008 10:47

Chelsea: with a Portuguese accent again

Jordi Clos

The eternal aspirant to the Champions League title features two important additions this season: Luiz Felipe Scolari and ex-Barça player Deco. After being runners-up last time round, the Stamford Bridge outfit is determined to be the champions.

Apart from Arsenal, Barça’s other possible English rival in the Champions League is Chelsea. In recent years duels between the Catalans and the Blues have been hard-fought affairs and have become classic European encounters. Between 2005 and 2007, the two sides went head-to-head three seasons running, producing Ronaldinho’s goals (2004/05), Messi’s exhibition at Stamford Bridge (2005/06) and Drogba’s last minute equaliser at Camp Nou (2006/07).

With Mourinho gone, the presence of Scolari and Deco has given a new look to the eternal aspirants to the European title.

Scolari does things differently

luizscolari.jpgAfter reaching the final in Moscow last term only to lose to Manchester United, this season Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men are set on Rome and conquering the Champions League. That’s why Chelsea signed the Brazilian coach: to win the titles they missed out on last season and to play more attractive football.

Strong in the EPL

At the moment Scolari is producing impressive results, especially in the domestic league. In the EPL the Londoners are second, one point behind Liverpool and with an impressive goal difference of +29 (36 for and only 7 against). In the Champions League, by contrast, they haven’t done as well as expected and came second in their group on 11 points behind Roma.

Stars still there

José Mourinho is no longer in the dugout, but Chelsea still have most of the stars who took part in recent epic battles with Barça. The Londoners’ squad features players like Cech, Carvaho, Ashley Cole, Terry, Essien, Lampard, Ballack and Drogba.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the Blues also have two ex-Barça players in Belletti and Deco. The hero of Paris was transferred to Chelsea in the summer of 2007 since when his first team appearances have been irregular. That’s not the case with Deco, the club’s biggest summer signing who is now a fixture in midfield.
Photos: www.uefa.com
Photos: www.uefa.com
Past encounters
The rivalry between Chelsea and Barça began in the 2004/05 season, when Mourinho’s side knocked Rijkaard’s men out of the Champions League in the last 16 thanks to a controversial goal by John Terry. The Catalans got their revenge the following year with a win at Stamford Bridge (1-2) followed by a draw at Camp Nou (1-1). The last time the two teams faced off was in the group stages in the 2006/07 season. In that campaign Chelsea won at home (1-0) and drew with a last minute goal by Drogba at Camp Nou (2-2).

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