Didier Drogba did not travel with Chelsea squad for Tuesday evening’s Champions League Group G clash at Sporting Lisbon.
A 20-man senior team squad departed for Portugal after a training session at the Premier League leaders’ Cobham training facility on Monday, with Ivorian Drogba and injured midfielder Ramires the notable absentees.
Manager Jose Mourinho will be at the bowel of the Estadio Jose Alvalade upon arrival in Lisbon later today to preview the Matchday 3 fixture, but will most probably be spared of questions relating to Ramires’ absence having already addressed the Brazilian’s injury condition ahead of the 3-0 league win over Aston Villa last weekend.
Ramires missed the weekend win against Aston Villa after sustaining a muscular injury during the 1-1 draw at Manchester City. He is not expected to take part in Lisbon as well as next weekend’s clash with Arsenal.
Diego Costa is expected to spearhead Chelsea’s attack against Sporting, who are unbeaten this season (though have drawn four of their last five games, including a 1-1 draw with Porto on Friday). Costa, despite an ongoing hamstring problem, has had a fantastic start to his Chelsea career and netted his eighth goal in Saturday’s win over Villa at Stamford Bridge.
Drogba, 36, is yet to score for the ‘Blues’ since returning as a free-agent in the summer. His below par performance in the 1-1 home draw against Schalke in the opening Group G fixture a fortnight ago attracted criticism from pundits and supporters.
Midfielder/defender Nathan Ake travelled as part of the group, as did goalkeeper Mitchell Beeney, with Mark Schwarzer ineligible in Champions League competition.
Captain John Terry could make his 100th Champions League appearance tomorrow.
— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) September 29, 2014
Chelsea can win Champions League
Midfielder Eden Hazard says the current Chelsea crop can repeat what the likes of Drogba and Frank Lampard inspired during the 2011-12 season.
Hazard, who joined the west London outfit in June 2012, says he wants to realise his childhood dream by lifting the Uefa Champions League trophy in his third season.
“My ambition in the Champions League is pretty much the same as it has been since I’ve been at Chelsea,’ said Hazard. “Personally and collectively it is to go as far as we can, which is to win it.
“With the team we have I think that it’s possible. I don’t know if we are the favourite – there is also Real Madrid who are the holders, Bayern Munich are very strong again this year, there are some other great teams – so let’s see how it goes.”
Chelsea were eliminated in the semi-finals of Europe’s flagship competition by Atletico Madrid last season. The Belgian opines the coach Mourinho’s side must take a holistic approach to their ambition in the present term.
“We have to qualify from the group stage first,” Hazard stressed. “That’s the most important thing right now.
“But of course the dream is to win it. Every year when we play in the Champions League, we play to have the chance to win it. There is a lot of quality in our group and we are all hoping we can go to the end.
“When I was playing for Lille the dream was to go to the first knockout round! But at Chelsea we play to win it and that is a dream of every young player who starts playing football – to hold the trophy. It’s one of the best.”