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Champions League: Chelsea focuses on Europe after slip in Premier League

Champions League: Chelsea focuses on Europe after slip in Premier League

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has virtually conceded the Premier League title. Now his attention turns back to winning the Champions League.
Chelsea has a 1-0 lead going into the second leg of the semifinals at Liverpool on Tuesday, thanks to Joe Cole's goal at Stamford Bridge last Wednesday.
To maintain that slender advantage, the Blues need to rebound from Saturday's draining 2-2 draw with Bolton in the Premier League, which extended Manchester United's lead to five points with three games to go.
Ignoring Anfield's passionate _ and intimidating _ fans will also be a necessity for Chelsea.
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez described his supporters as the "special ones" _ a dig at Mourinho, who has styled himself the "Special One."
"Playing at Anfield is going to be a boost for us. We hope we can use the energy that Anfield provides us," Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso said Monday.
The Blues were knocked out of the competition by Liverpool at the same stage in 2005, when the Reds went on to win their fifth title on penalty kicks against AC Milan.
If the quadruple looks unlikely at this stage, Chelsea remains on course for the treble, having already won the League Cup and due to play Man United in the FA Cup final on May 19.
Above all, Mourinho _ who won the competition with FC Porto in 2004 _ craves winning Chelsea's first European Cup, particularly if it keeps owner Roman Abramovich happy. Abramovich reportedly is considering firing Mourinho after the season.
"They (Chelsea) know the pressure they have," Benitez said. "You can ask Mr. Abramovich if he wants the Champions League more than the other trophies."
Benitez rested seven key players in the 2-1 league defeat at Portsmouth on Saturday, including captain Steven Gerrard and defensive stalwart Jamie Carragher.
Although Liverpool is third in the Premier League and is guaranteed a Champions League spot next season, it has just 67 points, 13 adrift of Chelsea.
"Of course my players were devastated," Mourinho said, referring to the Bolton result. "But Liverpool should be also devastated because they are third and so many points behind and they lost the title in January."
Michael Essien is back for the Blues after a one-match ban and could partner John Terry in the center of defense, with Ricardo Carvalho a doubt with a knee injury. After undergoing an ankle operation, midfielder Michael Ballack is ruled out.
While Chelsea can progress with a goalless draw, Liverpool has to win.
"If we play at our level I am sure we will win," Benitez said. "I don't think it's any secret, we will try to play with a high tempo from the beginning and if we play 90 minutes with a high tempo _ perfect."
The Champions League is the only competition Liverpool can win this season.
"We are absolutely focused on the Champions League and all our commitment is on this competition," Alonso said.
History is on Benitez's side _ Liverpool has not been knocked out of the European Cup semifinals since 1965 against Inter Milan.
A Liverpool win could set up a rerun of the 2005 final, if Milan can overcome a 3-2 deficit on Wednesday against the Red Devils.


Updated : 2021-07-24 19:56 GMT+08:00