Eurozone: Nine-man Inter save Mourinho's home record
Monday 22 February 2010
It will be eight years and a day since Jose Mourinho last lost a League home game when Chelsea face Internazionale on Wednesday night. The unbeaten record does not extend to European competition but underlines the size of the task awaiting Carlo Ancelotti's men at San Siro.
Mourinho's extraordinary home league record was under threat against Sampdoria when his side went down to nine men on 38 minutes, but the Serie A leaders held on for the point in their last game before Wednesday's Champions League first leg.
The former Chelsea coach refused to speak with Italian media after the game and ordered his players to follow his silent protest. He was incensed by both red cards and a Samuel Eto'o penalty claim that was turned down, with the Cameroon striker booked for diving.
Eto'o also missed Inter's best chance to win the game and will have to wait to see whether his display earned him a starting berth against Chelsea or Mourinho reunites Goran Pandev with Diego Milito.
Sampdoria's numerical advantaged was reduced in the second half when they had Giampaolo Pazzini sent off but it was a unwelcomed workout for nine-man Inter ahead of Wednesday night.
At least Mourinho's central defenders will go into the first leg rested. Walter Samuel was sent off on 31 minutes and Ivan Cordoba went seven minutes later.
Depleted Barça still class apart
Barcelona ended their 4-0 thrashing of Racing Santander with nine home-grown players on the pitch, making a nonsense of their injury crisis. Pep Guardiola was without three first-choice midfielders but simply called on yet another product of the club's youth team.
Debutant Thiago, son of Brazilian World Cup winner Mazinho, came on as a second-half substitute and scored the fourth after Andres Iniesta and Thierry Henry had both ended scoring droughts. Iniesta broke the deadlock, scoring his first goal since that last-minute strike at Stamford Bridge that knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League last season. Henry added a second with a free-kick.
"The team needs him more than he realises," said Guardiola, revealing a crisis of confidence that had kept the Frenchman on the bench for three games previously. "I hope this goal encourages him because we need him back to his best."
The Barcelona coach had words for what he felt was youngster Thiago's over-the-top goal celebration: "He is a little bit cocky and we need to put the brakes on him. He will have plenty of time to learn playing in the youth team."
Former Tottenham boss Christian Gross is convinced his Stuttgart side can get the better of Barcelona in the Champions League tomorrow. "I believe we can surprise them," said Gross, who had just watched his side hammer Cologne 5-1 away from home making it 18 from a possible 21 points. "We are in good form, back playing the way we can, and this is a good time to face them."
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