Ancelotti takes sting out of Mourinho return

LONDON - Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti has sought to play down the impact of Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho's return to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, saying sentiment would have no bearing on the Champions League game.

Mourinho is Chelsea's most successful coach, having won two Premier League titles and three cups. The team he built between 2004 and 2007 is largely the side Inter will face when they bid to defend a 2-1 first-leg lead at Stamford Bridge.

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Ancelotti, who faced Mourinho last season as a fierce city rival at AC Milan, is avoiding the histrionic gestures his opposite number revels in. The Italian said he would for example not be kissing the club badge, preferring only to kiss "beautiful women".

"The players are not distracted by all this," Ancelotti told a news conference on Monday ahead of the last-16 return match. "Mourinho will come back. For him it will be a special evening.

"I think the fans will give him a very good reception. He deserves this but the match will be a different thing.

"All Chelsea players and Inter players are focused on the game. They are not interested in other things," said Ancelotti.

"The difference will be made by the different players, the different confidence or courage the players put on the pitch."

Ancelotti dismissed suggestions the recent mediocre form of the Serie A leaders would have an impact on the game.

"I'm not considering an Inter who have dropped in form, I'm thinking about an Inter who have played so well over the season," said the Italian.

"We have to be prepared for a team that is playing at its best."


Inter's 3-1 defeat at Catania last week might serve to spur them to better things in the Champions League, added Ancelotti.

The Chelsea coach said his team would not panic if they failed to score early.

"We do not have an obsession with scoring early. We know we have to score but we have the whole game to do so," he said.

Ancelotti's sentiments were echoed by Florent Malouda, who provided a goal and two assists in Saturday's 4-1 home win over West Ham United and is in dazzling form.

"We must have patience so we won't go in a rush and try to score early," said the France winger. "We will have to be clever and score hopefully more than one goal."

Malouda, brought to Chelsea by Mourinho, deftly sidestepped questions about the difference between the coaching methods of the Portuguese and the Italian.

"There are too many differences to innumerate. I just hope Carlo will make me win my first Champions League," said the winger.

"We are not thinking about history. It's what happens tomorrow, the past we don't care (about). We are just looking to win and go through tomorrow."

Chelsea will again have to rely on third-string goalkeeper Ross Turnbull, who played against West Ham because of injuries to Petr Cech and his deputy Henrique Hilario.

Ancelotti, though, said Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho was fit again after missing Saturday's game.

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