Tuesday 12 December 2017

Mourinho begins mind games as he rips up team sheet at press conference

Jose Mourinho named five of his starting team for tomorrow's game with PSG.
Jose Mourinho named five of his starting team for tomorrow's game with PSG.

Jose Mourinho has begun the psychological warfare on the eve of the Champions League clash with PSG by naming half of his team and lavishing praise on the opposition.

The Portuguese native expressed affection for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, questioned Paris St Germain's lavish spending in the era of Financial Fair Play and declined to reveal his starting XI on the eve of the Champions League quarter-final first leg at Parc des Princes.

Mourinho was asked to replicate his memorable moment on the eve of a Champions League last 16 tie at Barcelona in February 2005 and list the two sides for the following day's match.

The Chelsea boss deferred to the UEFA interpreter on his right, suggesting he had guessed the visitors' line-up correctly and read out the first five names on the team-sheet.

"Petr Cech, (Branislav) Ivanovic, (John) Terry, (Gary) Cahill and (Cesar) Azpilicueta," said Mourinho, who opened his eve-of-match media conference by announcing Azpilicueta had become a father on Monday to a girl, Martina.

Asked to read further, Mourinho screwed up the piece of paper.

It was metaphoric, for all season Mourinho has bemoaned the quality of his strike-force.

Again, following last Saturday's loss at Crystal Palace, which saw him concede defeat in the Premier League title race, the Blues boss outlined his intention to overhaul his forward line this summer.

As if to illustrate Chelsea are comparative paupers to PSG's princes, Mourinho listed the men he considers to be the leading forwards in Europe, three of whom play for the Parisiens.

Mourinho, who insists the hosts are favourites, said: "It's a team full of fantastic strikers and goalscorers and that is what really makes the difference in this level.

"You look to the teams in the top eight at this moment, all of them good teams, good structures, with a certain philosophy, but after that you go and you see (Barcelona's Lionel) Messi, (Real Madrid's Cristiano) Ronaldo, (Borussia Dortmund's Robert) Lewandowski, Diego Costa, Ibrahimovic, (Edison) Cavani, (Ezequiel) Lavezzi.

"They (PSG) have lots of them. At this level it's a very important part of a team."

Fernando Torres is likely to start up front for Chelsea as Samuel Eto'o (hamstring) did not travel and Demba Ba has been used sparingly this season.

Ashley Cole (knee) also did not travel, meaning Dutch youngster Nathan Ake is back-up to Azpilicueta.

The Spain full-back was smiling widely after the arrival of his daughter and now hopes to return with a victory.

Azpilicueta said: "I want to play. Yesterday was a beautiful day for me.

"But now I know that my two girls are okay and I came with my head clean to train today, to play tomorrow and to get back with a good result so everyone will be happy."

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