7:45pm. The Champions League theme bristles against the hairs on the back of your neck. A roaring Stamford Bridge expects something special.
Tuesday promises to be an epic Champions league encounter for many reasons. Of course the Bridge will be welcoming back a former hero and our most successful manager in history. Jose will deserve all of the applause and rightful recognition of his work at Chelsea before kickoff. From then on though they’ll be no mistake from the players or the fans were our loyalties lie. Inter looked a mediocre team for much of the first tie and a more ruthless approach in front of goal will see us through. For all of the media’s talk about the return of the special one the truth is that Chelsea are a far stronger outfit and should progress. The main reason for that? Experience.
For all of the pain we’ve had to endure in the past few seasons in this competition it pales in comparison to the mental strength shown by the current squad. They too have had to take disappointment on the chin, brush themselves off and then come back stronger each year. The desire in the squad to lift the European Cup is huge and, when two sides are evenly matched, could make all the difference. JT apparently still keeps his shirt from that final in full view, he has to walk by it as painful reminder to himself about what’s missing from Chelsea’s history. Drogba has talked about the obsession in the dressing room for winning the elusive tin pot. The players aren’t interested in having a good run in the completion, they’ve done that and are bored by it. They want to kick on, show their quality and lift the trophy in Madrid come May, nothing else will do. The likes of Lampard, Ballack, Carvalho, Anelka – they’ve all played in huge games and have the medals to prove it. A one goal deficit at this stage of the competition won’t cause many sleepless nights and we should be full of confidence to overcome Inter.
Inter will want to keep things tight and sneak a goal on the break. What Chelsea need is patience and to move the ball quickly. If the likes of Anelka and Malouda can commit players and create space for others that will help us find the back of the net. Carlo will not want to be hit on the counter but at the same time we have to be focused on producing a vibrant attacking display. Defences won’t come much more stubborn in the competition and quick, one touch passing could be key. The slick triangles involving the midfield and attack that we’ve seen many a time at the Bridge this season can cause serious damage. For cameos it might suit the trickery of Joe Cole and Deco rather than the pace of Kalou or Sturridge.
There are some great match-ups all over the pitch, it should be an exciting tactical battle but this game won’t be reliant on the managers. The pre-match focus and media frenzy will be on the dugout. No one in this Chelsea side will be interested in that. Once the players cross the white line it is all about who has the best quality and the most desire to succeed. Regardless of the first leg score line it is the experience of the Chelsea players that can give us the advantage.