SPORTSMAIL EXCLUSIVE: Jose's Champions League Special Ones

24 April 2009 02:59
With excitement building across the country in anticipation of next week's mouth-watering Champions League semi-finals, Sportsmail asked Jose Mourinho, the self-styled Special One and football's most outspoken manager, to assess whether his former side Chelsea could see off the free-scoring stars of Barcelona -  and who he expects to win the all-English clash between Arsenal and Manchester United.

How Chelsea can beat BarcelonaArsenal must score away to beat United The Special One: Jose Mourinho

How Chelsea can beat BarcelonaBarcelona are bang in form they beat Sevilla 4-0 on Wednesday but there is talent and passion at Chelsea. They will believe this tie is one they can win.I don't think there is a magic formula, but there are players at Chelsea who deserve to win the European Cup. If they failed to win it in their careers, it would be a massive shame for them because they really deserve it.You want the best players in the world to win the European Cup. Ricky Carvalho and John Terry can keep the best strikers quiet on their day. Michael Essien doesn't stop running in midfield and he will be a big player for Chelsea over the two games.Also, we all know Didier Drogba loves to prove people wrong. He has hit form at just the right time. Anyone who still thinks he isn't one of the best strikers in world football really doesn't know what they are talking about.If you write him off, he will punish you.

Essien v Xavi These boys are both machines. They are the engines in both sides, allowing the flair players to do their job. Expect a huge battle between them. Neither of them will pull out of anything and they won't stop running and tackling for the 180 minutes.

Eto'o v Terry Samuel Eto'o may very well be the on-form striker in Europe and Chelsea are more than aware of the danger he poses. These are the sort of matches John Terry lives for and I expect him to be given the job of keeping Eto'o quiet. It will be one of his toughest tests yet, but he is more than up to it if he performs at the top of his game. As a coach, you could not ask any more from a leader. He is a great motivator for the other players. On the pitch, you can see he is a natural leader and that confidence and determination rubs off on the other players. John is prepared to do anything for the club on the pitch. He doesn't mind getting hurt if he knows it is for the good of the team. On a few occasions, when I was at Chelsea, he got injured when most other players would not have even attempted in the first place to go for the ball. That is the sort of passion you look for from your leader.

Jose's key players - Frank Lampard and Lionel Messi I know Frank very well. He knows how to play in big games and, if Barcelona give him any space or time on the ball, then he will make them pay for that. I regard him as the best central midfield player in the world, because he is the most consistent goalscoring midfielder. I remember one day telling him he was the best midfielder in the world while he was showering. I always believe that you must show players love and praise. In my experience, you will see the fruits of that on the pitch. I told Frank he could be the best, and has there been a better goalscoring midfield player in the whole of Europe over the last three years? If there has I would like you to show him to me! I have praised Zlatan Ibrahimovic, my player at Inter, and you can see the fruits of that this season.

Lionel is the world's No 1 player at present. There is magic in his boots. Everything he touches at the moment seems to turn to gold, much like it did with Cristiano Ronaldo last season. Chelsea will study him, and prepare for him, but you can't prepare to play against a player such as Messi who doesn't even know what he is going to do himself!

Jose's VerdictPeople are talking about it being Barcelona's year and, with the way they are playing, that is understandable. But I know those boys at Chelsea and they will still be hurting from last year. It will be a tough game for Chelsea, but I think they can do it, and maybe go one better this year. There are a number of players who deserve it.

 Arsenal must score away to beat UnitedAdebayor v Ferdinand Adebayor has hit form at just the right time for Arsenal his early-season form was not as good as it was last season but he is showing again just how dangerous he can be. I expect Ferdinand will be asked to cope with him, because he is the quicker of the two central defenders. They are both big, strong players and the winner of this battle could go a long way to deciding the tie.

Ronaldo v Sagna Ronaldo often does something special in Europe and it will be Sagna's job to stop him. This might not sound an obvious battle, but you keep Ronaldo quiet and you go a long way to keeping United quiet. Sagna is one of the most under-rated players in the Premier League and one of the players best equipped in Europe to keep Ronaldo quiet. But we all know that, on his day, Ronaldo can be unstoppable.

Jose's key players - Wayne Rooney and Cesc Fabregas Not only does he have incredible natural talent, he also has the work rate of a less talented player. You are usually either a top striker or you make up for that with your work rate, but Rooney has both. He just never stops running and, as a manager, you know he is going to give you everything. He could be the player to come up with the bit of magic to decide the tie.

Arsenal have looked a different team since he has returned. So much of their good work comes through him and you can even tell Arsenal's strikers look a lot happier with him on the pitch because they know the quality of service they are going to get with him around.

Jose's VerdictManchester United will go into the game as favourites but that might just suit Arsenal. Both managers know each other inside out and they won't fall for anything. They have far too much intelligence and experience for that.

Arsenal will need to get an away goal in Manchester. If they don't, I think things will be very difficult for them. If they do get at least one, they will give themselves a very good chance.

 Trigger-happy Italians leave Mourinho hankering after English 'paradise'Anelka swipes at unambitious Arsenal and claims Chelsea are a bigger clubCarrick admits United revelled in watching Liverpool suffer at the hands of ArshavinArshavin targets scoring five at United after playing poker with Liverpool

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Source: Daily_Mail

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