Football: Vialli wants to kill off Worthington Cup

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AS CHELSEA prepare to sample the fine wine of the European Cup for the first time, Gianluca Vialli yesterday suggested doing away with the Worthington Cup. Not surprisingly, the sophisticated Italian, having experienced Europe's most revered football prize as a winning captain - with Juventus three years ago - has little taste for flat beer.

Speaking ahead of tonight's home leg of the European Cup qualifying round against Skonto Riga of Latvia, Vialli expressed his concern about the sort of overindulgence that could leave all of England's three potential Champions' League challengers - and their supporters - feeling sick and tired in this most demanding of seasons. "In England you probably have too many cups," he said. "You have the FA Cup and one other. What's the point in that? One cup should be more than enough. There are too many games. You can have the biggest squad in the world but to get ready for an important match every three days is probably impossible."

Like a good Italian, Vialli also made a comparison with more intimate matters. "It's like if you make love every minute. After a while you get bored. You need to do it every now and then."

If such wisdom was a coded warning to his players in the light of recent research into knee injuries sustained through over-active sex lives, it is obviously working as Roberto Di Matteo and Jody Morris are the only players not fully fit, both suffering from troublesome ankles rather than knees. Neither started in the 4-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday, a performance which suggested that far from finding Chelsea a little rusty, Skonto, who are in the middle of their season (and top of the table as usual), will be up against opponents already running like clockwork. Chris Sutton, one of the few whose joints looked a little stiff, has been working on his finishing with the manager, whose football these days is confined to the training ground.

En route to the European Cup-Winners' Cup semi-final last season, Chelsea failed to build a substantial lead in three of their four home legs and eventually paid a high price against Real Mallorca. A champagne performance is required on a historic night.

Chelsea (probable): De Goey; Ferrer, Desailly, Leboeuf, Le Saux; Petrescu, Deschamps, Wise, Poyet; Sutton, Zola.