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Home > Sports > Football > UEFA Champions League 2006-07 > Reuters > Report


Anfield awaits Drogba and Crouch

May 01, 2007 09:42 IST

Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho believes striker Didier Drogba holds the key to their Champions League semi-final against Liverpool at Anfield.

With a 1-0 lead after last week's first leg at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea may as well start booking their flights to the final in Athens on May 23 if the Ivorian forward adds to his 31-goal tally this season.

The away goals rule means that Liverpool, who beat Chelsea 1-0 on Merseyside to reach a victorious Champions League final in 2005, would have to score three times in reply.

Aware of the trouble Drogba caused last week, Mourinho said: "Didier's on good form... he's powerful, he did it at Stamford Bridge but he did it last season here too.

"We believe Didier can be an important man for us."

Liverpool, who beat Chelsea 2-0 at Anfield in a Premier League game in January, are expected to use towering Peter Crouch in their search for a precious goal to even the tie.

The two teams go into the game after a Premier League Saturday both clubs will want to forget.

Mourinho highlighted the fact that his side fought out a gruelling 2-2 draw with Bolton Wanderers, a result which made Manchester United the likely champions, while Liverpool fielded a largely second-string side that lost 2-1 at Portsmouth.

GOOD LEAD

"One-nil is a good lead in the knockout stages," Mourinho acknowledged.

"But we have 90 minutes to play against an opponent who is at home and has had one week to rest and prepare for this game, against a team who played two days ago and had to fight physically and mentally in the title race."

Benitez will certainly look to exploit any tired legs at Anfield.

"I don't think it's a secret," the Spaniard said. "We'll try to play with a high tempo from the beginning and if we can play 90 minutes at a very high tempo, it's perfect."

Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso felt the Reds were in good shape to face Chelsea, saying: "We have rotated players in the last few games -- we have different options in most positions.

"That's something that's good for us.

"In the first leg we made some mistakes that we have been working on and we'll try not to commit again... maybe we'll play with more intensity."

The winners of the tie will face either Manchester United or AC Milan in the final.



UEFA Champions League 2006-07: The Complete Coverage
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