Mourinho and Mancini renew hostilities with another war of words
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and Galatasaray boss Roberto Mancini have brought mind games into the equation ahead of their sides meeting in Champions League last 16 first leg action.
The Blues are an industry best 21/20 with Coral to win in Istanbul, while Gala are 3/1 for victory on home turf and it’s 9/4 for a draw.
In the build-up to this encounter, former Manchester City coach Mancini put pressure on Chelsea, claiming “they have an 80 per cent chance of going through”.
This move, downplaying the Turkish champions’ chances, was followed by the Italian saying he built the Inter Milan team which, under Mourinho, won a historic Champions League, Coppa Italia and Serie A treble in 2010.
“Mourinho won the Champions League because he took a good team,” Mancini began. “He took a team that, like Manchester City, I built. A team that had a strong mentality.”
‘The Special One’ was back to his witty best responding to that claim after being caught on camera privately saying he had no strikers. “It’s funny,” said Mourinho. “It’s funny because my team had Lucio, [Thiago] Motta, [Diego] Milito, [Samuel] Eto’o, [Goran] Pandev and [Wesley] Sneijder.
“From 11 players, he [Mancini] didn’t work with six of them. So he made a five-a-side team because I played with only five players from his team.”
This war of words adds extra spice to Chelsea’s Turkish trip and reports circulated overnight that two away fans were stabbed in Istanbul. Hospitality aside, two of those players name-checked by Mourinho in the above list will line up against one another on the pitch.
Eto’o is the Blues’ joint top-scorer in Europe with two. The veteran Cameroon frontman has 10 Champions League goals in his last 15 games. Coral also offer a best price of 11/2 on Eto’o netting the opener at the Turk Telekom Arena.
Dutch playmaker Sneijder, meanwhile, joins former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba in forward areas for hosts Galatasaray. The former is 11/4 to score anytime here. Drogba is a tasty 2/1 to show Mourinho what he once had at Stamford Bridge by netting against his old club.
Although Premier League teams have struggled so far in the last 16, Chelsea are odds-on at 2/9 to buck that trend and qualify for the quarter-finals.