Champions League: Drogba vows to pile on the misery for Chelsea
LONDON: Galatasaray striker Didier Drogba has warned Chelsea not to expect any favours when he makes an emotional return to his old club for a decisive Champions League last 16-clash on Tuesday.
Jose Mourinho’s side are reeling after a tempestuous 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday ended their 14-match unbeaten run in the Premier League and cast doubt about their ability to cope with the pressure of the title race.
Mourinho’s men remain four points clear at the top of the table, but they have less margin for error in Champions League, where a win or high-scoring draw for Galatasaray in Tuesday’s second-leg at Stamford Bridge would send the Turks into the quarter-finals following a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Istanbul last month.
In the circumstances, it will be something of a bittersweet reunion with Drogba, who is certain to be greeted as a returning hero by Chelsea fans before the match but could end up shattering their European dreams by the end of the night.
On the eve of his first appearance at the Bridge since his departure immediately after that unforgettable night in Munich, Drogba admitted he is nervous about how he will react to being the centre of attention.
“First of all I was happy to play against my former club, against my friends,” Drogba told UEFA.com. But at the same time it is a very special moment because I do not know what my reaction will be,” Drogba told UEFA.com.
“You know that I spent eight years at Chelsea, so I am quite apprehensive about it.”
Drogba makes no attempt to hide his love for Chelsea, but he would relish another run to the latter stages of the competition, even if it comes at the expense of his old friends.
“I hope that Galatasaray qualify. It will be difficult, but I think I’m allowed to say that I will receive a warm welcome, because I know Chelsea’s fans and our relationship is really special.”
Clasico on Madrid minds as Schalke hope to save face
Real Madrid already have one foot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League after thrashing Schalke 6-1 in the first-leg of their last-16 tie in Germany three weeks ago.
However, Los Blancos are looking to head into Sunday’s potentially decisive La Liga clash with Barcelona on a positive note by extending their 30-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
Real boss Carlo Ancelotti is likely to rest a number of first-team regulars with the Barca match in mind with the likes of Isco, Asier Illarramendi and Jese Rodriguez likely to start.
Schalke captain Benedikt Hoewedes, whilst accepting a remarkable comeback is well beyond his side, has said he wants the Royal Blues to sign off this season’s European campaign with their heads held high at the Bernabeu.
“We want to make a sensible exit from the Champions League,” said the Germany international.
“Unfortunately, the good Champions League season we had played up until then paled into the background after the 6-1 defeat against Real, so it’s even more important for us to leave behind a positive impression of both us and the club in the competition.”