Mourinho set to risk Robben in Barcelona showdown

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The Independent Online

Jose Mourinho could gamble on his inspirational Dutch winger Arjen Robben in tomorrow's crucial Champions' League match against Barcelona and, in the meantime, the Chelsea coach has struck the first blow in the psychological build-up to the game.

Jose Mourinho could gamble on his inspirational Dutch winger Arjen Robben in tomorrow's crucial Champions' League match against Barcelona and, in the meantime, the Chelsea coach has struck the first blow in the psychological build-up to the game.

Mourinho has rearranged his official press conference today from 4.30pm to 7pm in order to make sure that he speaks after the Barcelona coach and leads the pre-match agenda on the day of the game.

There is already considerable bad feeling between the two coaches after Chelsea complained to Uefa on Thursday that Rijkaard was in referee Anders Frisk's private room during half-time at the Nou Camp.

Rijkaard dismissed the allegations from Chelsea as "ridiculous" after his side's 2-1 first-leg victory on 23 February, but Mourinho, who refused to speak that night, has decided that it is vital he has the last say on the eve of the match. The Dutch coach is understood to be bemused by the change of times for the press conferences but feels that to complain would be to play into Mourinho's hands.

In Barcelona, it was Mourinho who spoke first before the match and took the unusual step of naming his own side, as well as predicting Barcelona's team. Rijkaard struck back by suggesting that those were not the actions of a "calm" man. Tonight, the change in schedule will deny the Barcelona coach any opportunity to respond.

The other key issue for Chelsea will be whether Robben, who suffered two small fractures to his right foot in a challenge with Blackburn's Aaron Mokoena on 2 February, comes through a training session. Mourinho said the final decision on whether he plays will be made by Robben.

"For the next Premiership game [against West Bromwich Albion on 16 March] he will be ready," Mourinho said. "For the Champions' League game I have doubts and so does he. I don't want to put pressure on.

"Robben is a special player but even without him we have got some good results. We won the Carling Cup, we won at Everton and we have beaten Norwich. We are more than one player, we have a great team."

Mourinho is expected to use tonight's press conference to unsettle Barcelona. He has already won a minor victory after it was announced yesterday that Pierluigi Collina would take charge of the match - the same referee Mourinho had recommended for the game.

The Barcelona midfielder Rafael Marquez will not play tomorrow, although the forward Ludovic Giuly has recovered from injury. Marquez was taken off with a strained hamstring at half-time during the 1-0 win over Osasuna on Saturday.

After his team's 3-1 win at Norwich, Mourinho said he was "calm and confident" ahead of the game. "Every day, and before every match, I try to show the players my experience and confidence. I ask them how we can be under pressure when we are eight points ahead with an extra game to play.

"When I say we will win the championship it doesn't mean we will forget we still have to win a few matches."

The Chelsea striker Mateja Kezman, who scored the second goal against Norwich, said that his side did not fear Barcelona. "We shouldn't be thinking about winning 1-0, we just need to go and win," he said. "I am sure we can do that. From the first minute we will play to win. Barcelona are a good team but they are not unbeatable. We have to fight on every part of the pitch and give it a real go."

Mourinho did involve himself in one dispute this weekend. He is currently boycotting the club's in-house television station Chelsea TV over an alleged remark made to him by one of the channel's employees.

The Premier League has denied that Chelsea are delaying the enquiry into the alleged illegal approach to Ashley Cole. A spokesman said: "The timescale of the investigation is proceeding according to plan."

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