The second of our pre-season friendlies sees us take on Portuguese champions Benfica, the first club managed by Jose Mourinho back in 2000. During his brief three months in charge he didn’t lose a match.
“I was there for no more than three months but it was enough time to feel how big the club is. I never lost there, when I was Benfica manager I played six, seven matches at home and never lost, and when I went there as Porto manager I played there a few times and never lost. So it is a place where I normally go happy,” he said.
Once again a big squad has travelled and Mourinho’s hoping to give as many players as possible a run out at the Estadio da Luz.
Claude Makelele and Hernan Crespo are ready to play forty-five minutes each. They didn’t feature in the 5-1 win over Wycombe midweek after returning to training a few days later than the majority of the squad.
It’ll be the first time Crespo’s turned out for the Blues since May 2004 having spent a successful year-long loan with AC Milan. Interesting to see how sharp and up for it he is. I’d put money on him scoring.
Tiago will also be returning to a club where he spent one-and-a-half years before moving to The Bridge last summer in an £8m deal.
The Portuguese midfielder was a touch underrated by many last season. Much like Makelele his contributions often went unnoticed. His football didn’t set the Premiership alight but he did his job well and was brilliant towards the end of the season.
A player who’s yet to feature pre-season is Didier Drogba. The Ivory Coast international has spoken of his frustration at Jose Mourinho’s tactics in one of today’s tabloids, also claiming he did not get the credit he deserved for the role he played last season. What Mourinho thinks of this is as yet unknown.
I agree with Drogba for the most part. His goal tally was a little disappointing but that was down to an injury-hit season, the amount of defending he was asked to do and the 4-3-3 formation often preferred by Mourinho. The unwarranted criticism he received obviously came from those who didn’t look at the picture as a whole. His £24m price tag was never going to help his cause either.
The match is live on Chelsea TV. Kick-off is 20:00 BST.
The team travels straight back to England after the game and then heads for the USA on Tuesday for the “World Series of Football”, hopefully with a player by the name of Wright-Phillips in the squad.