Chelsea v Basle preview: New signing Willian to make debut in Champions League opener


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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho has given the Brazilian midfielder Willian his Chelsea debut in the side to face Basle in the Champions League tonight, kick-off 7.45pm, the Portuguese coach’s return to the competition in his second spell at the club.

Willian, signed for £32m from Anzhi Makhachkala last month, is expected to play on the right side of the attacking three behind striker Samuel Eto’o. Oscar occupies the playmaker’s role with Eden Hazard on the left wing. John Terry, Juan Mata and Demba Ba are all on the bench. Fernando Torres, who was a second half substitute against Everton on Saturday, is not in the squad.

In his programme notes, Mourinho, whose last game in charge of Chelsea at the end of his first spell was six years ago today, said that “the football gods” were not with his side during their 1-0 defeat to Everton. Mourinho wrote: “We need you [the fans] as always and don’t forget, tonight when you see our squad, in the attacking positions are four kids aged just 22. That’s fantastic. That’s the future. That’s what we are building. We need your support, especially these kids.”

In the end, the Chelsea manager picked the 32-year-old Eto’o among those four attacking players. The three ‘kids’ – Willian, Oscar and Hazard – cost a combined £92m in transfer fees. Only Petr Cech and Ashley Cole from tonight’s starting line-up started Mourinho’s last Champions League game against Rosenborg six years ago.

Chelsea team Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole; Van Ginkel, Lampard; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Eto'o .

Basle team Sommer; Voser, Schar, Ivanov, Safari; Salah, Diaz, Frei, Stocker; Sio, Streller.