Champions League: Tricky in Turkey



Chelsea's flight to Istanbul this week must have been a little awkward.

The conversation at the baggage carousel would have been even more stilted than usual.

The reason? A breach of privacy that has left Jose Mourinho hopping mad.

The Chelsea manager was at a sponsorship event for luxury watch maker Hublot when he was filmed in conversation with the company's owner.

Unaware that he was being recorded, the Chelsea manager made a number of comments that the club have not disputed, but have stressed were light-hearted and not for publication.

Canal Plus, of course, came to a rather different conclusion and slapped the footage online.

Where to start with the comments? "I have a team, but no striker," is the kind of quote that is unlikely to win the hearts and minds of Demba Ba, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto'o, no matter how accurate it is.

"I have one (Eto'o), but he is 32, possibly 35, who knows?" is another corker.

Eto'o may at least reflect that he is fortunate to at least be counted as a legitimate striker, but the comment about his age is unlikely to please him.

Either Mourinho means that he plays like a 35-year-old, or he is making a joke about the perceived "fake" ages of many African players.

Either way, the TV rights for their next conversation would probably be worth more than the rights to screen tomorrow morning's (Singapore time)game.

Not content with unsettling his own strikers, Mourinho even had time to cause problems for someone else's.

Questioned on the availability of Monaco's Radamel Falcao, he said: "I don't have a striker, but Falcao doesn't have a team. Who wants to play in front of 3,000 supporters?"


Ironically, the focal point of this game was already a Chelsea striker, or at least a former Chelsea striker.

This will be the first time that Didier Drogba has faced his former club and he has spent the last few days telling anyone who will listen that his love for the Blues is still strong.

That may prove to be a useful career move, given what Mourinho thinks of the current crop.

Given the bluntness of Chelsea against Everton last Saturday, Drogba would probably be an improvement, even at 36.

Chelsea will not have it all their own way tomorrow morning.

Galatasaray are in fine form under Roberto Mancini - even if they do not lead the table.

Fenerbahce's draw on Monday means that they sit four points clear, though their European ban means that Galatasaray will take the automatic Champions League spot if they finish second.

There's no reason why Galatasaray can't take it by right as well as default.

Unbeaten in their last eight games, they've been scoring freely in Turkey.

And then of course, there's that famous atmosphere.

Foreign teams are always guaranteed a special sort of reception in Istanbul.

Chelsea's players will have to be ready for the venom, even if the new TT Arena lacks the unwelcome intimacy of the old Ali Semi Yen.

Galatasaray coach Mancini has prospered since he arrived in Turkey, rescuing the side from an appalling start under his predecessor Fatih Terim.

Ironically, it was here that he succeeded where he had twice failed at Manchester City, taking his side into the latter stages of the Champions League.

Given how much has been invested in Galatasaray's stadium and their new, star-studded squad, failure was not an option.

Chelsea, if they are to take this tie back to London with any sort of comfort, will have to score.

But as Mourinho will tell you, goals are hard to come by these days.

It remains to be seen what his misfiring strikers think of that assessment.

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