Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho may risk deploying a half-fit Samuel Eto’o in the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Paris St-Germain after losing patience once again with the misfiring Fernando Torres.
The Spaniard struggled to make any impact during the 3-0 victory over Stoke on Saturday, and given Mourinho’s recent criticism of his options up-front, he could look to the Cameroonian striker to fire the Blues to victory as the look to overturn a 3-1 deficit to the French league leaders.
‘The Special One’ will need to spark his side into life given their lacklustre performance in Paris, and asked whether he felt it would indeed be a special night at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho left no-one in any doubt on what was in store ahead of Tuesday’s showdown.
“Could be. Could be. No, special it will be, for sure,” said Mourinho. “We need to score goals. If we don’t score a minimum of two goals, we are out. We know that. If we can have everybody available who can give us a chance to score goals, then let’s do that.”
But Torres’ latest failure to trouble the opposition goalkeeper has seen the Portuguese lose faith in his striker, and having previously called for the need to add at least one new front-man in the summer, Torres’ time at Stamford Bridge could well be over.
Champions League: The last eight teams standing
Champions League: The last eight teams standing
1/8 ATLETICO MADRID
Best: Runners-up (1974)
Star man: Diego Costa
Overview: Have let their chances of winning the Primera Division slip lately, but they are still having a superb year thanks to the 22 goals of Diego Costa. A 5-1 aggregate win over AC Milan in the last 16 will have done their confidence no harm.
Best: Winners (1992, 2006, 2009, 2011)
Star man: Lionel Messi
Overview: Also likely to lose out to Real Madrid for the La Liga title following a recent dip in form. Kept their European dream alive with relatively straightforward 4-1 win over Manchester City in the previous round.
3/8 BAYERN MUNICH
Best: Winners (1974, 1975, 1976, 2001, 2013)
Star man: Franck Ribery
Overview: Pep Guardiola is hoping to join an exclusive club of coaches who have won the Champions League with two different clubs. Bayern, unbeaten in the Bundesliga, wasted little effort getting past Arsenal in the second round.
4/8 BORUSSIA DORTMUND
Best: Winners (1997)
Star man: Robert Lewandowski
Overview: Defeated by Bayern in last year's final. Some 23 points behind their rivals in the Bundesliga and went down to a disappointing home defeat to Zenit St Petersburg in the second leg of their last-16 tie.
Best: Winners (2012)
Star man: Eden Hazard
Overview: Chelsea surrendered the initiative to Manchester City in the Premier League title race last weekend when they lost to Aston Villa, but few would bet against Jose Mourinho winning a third Champions League trophy after their ruthless display against Galatasaray in the last round.
6/8 MANCHESTER UNITED
Best: Winners (1968, 1999, 2008)
Star man: Robin van Persie
Overview: David Moyes has endured a horrid debut season domestically, but his team gave United fans a night to remember on Wednesday when they overturned a two-goal deficit to progress at the expense of Olympiacos.
7/8 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
Best: Semi-finalists (1995)
Star man: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Overview: Deprived of a place in the World Cup, Ibrahimovic will be looking to prove to the world that he is just as good as he thinks he is. PSG's expensively-assembled squad hammered Bayer Leverkusen 6-1 on aggregate in previous round.
8/8 REAL MADRID
Best: Winners (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002)
Star man: Cristiano Ronaldo
Overview: After a 12-year wait, this could finally be the season when Real Madrid finally achieve la decima (the 10th European Cup). Ronaldo is two goals shy of breaking Lionel Messi's record of 14 in one Champions League campaign following his four-goal haul in the 9-2 aggregate win over Schalke.
Whether Eto’o plays or not depends on whether the 33-year-old is able to train later today, but with double the tally of the Spaniard (Eto’o has eight league goals compared to Torres’ haul of four) Mourinho will be keen to have his best options available to tackle the rapidly rising force that is PSG.
“Maybe I will pick him,” Mourinho said of Eto’o, who is struggling with a hamstring injury picked up after scoring in the 6-0 demolition of Arsenal last month. “But to risk a player, you need to have minimum conditions to take that risk. If you think he’s going to be out after 10 minutes of the game, you can’t take that risk. If there is a minimum of conditions of risk, then yes.”
The Blues manager did lament his unavailable options following the victory over Stoke though, as he looks set to be without at least four players for the tie, and that’s not including the doubtful Eto’o.
“Mikel is injured, Ramires is suspended, Matic and Salah cannot play, Eto’o is injured. So... hah! Everything is easy,” Mouirnho joked. “Losing 3-1 there means I am not nervous. I want to enjoy the game, I want to enjoy the fight, I want to enjoy the risk. I want to enjoy that. So, no, no nerves. We have to enjoy the 90 minutes. After the 90 minutes, maybe the 120 minutes, if we lose, we don’t enjoy it. But the 90 minutes, you enjoy.”
The situation Chelsea find themselves in is reminiscent of the 2011-12 round of 16 tie with Napoli, when a 3-1 defeat in the first leg in Naples left Chelsea with a significant amount of work to do. However, the same result at Stamford Bridge took the tie to extra-time where Chelsea scored a winner to progress to the quarter-finals, and how Mourinho will be hoping they can achieve the same feat.
Frank Lampard got on the score-sheet in that 4-1 victory, and he feels that with Mourinho in charge, they have more than a chance of turning the tie around and securing their place in the semi-finals.
“That’s where you trust in the manager,” said Lampard. “He’s very, very strong in these situations and we’ll look at that. We’ve been disappointed since the first game.
“We have to be positive and try to win the game but at the same time we have to keep our heads. With the squad of players we’ve got we can win the game by two goals for sure. But we can’t be too gung-ho. It’s about finding the right balance on the night.”