LONDON, March 15 – Jose Mourinho returns to Chelsea with the ultimate revenge mission on his mind as Inter Milan attempt to knock his former club out of the Champions League.Mourinho will be back at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday for the first time since being sacked in 2007 after losing a power struggle with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and his host of advisors.
The Inter boss, whose side have a slender 2-1 lead to protect from the first leg of this last 16 tie, has visited his old stamping ground on a scouting mission since his shock exit, but this is his first chance to inflict a significant wound on the men that plotted to force him out.
Abramovich has made winning the Champions League the top priority for all the four managers who have led Chelsea since Mourinho’s departure, but none have succeeded and the Inter boss could hardly be expected not to take extra pleasure from denying Abramovich his dream for another year.
Whatever the fractious nature of the relationship between Mourinho and his former employers, even Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti admits his counterpart is certain to be given a raptuous reception by the Stamford Bridge fans.
Mourinho has already acknowledged it will be an emotional day but Inter striker Samuel Eto’o insists his manager is far too cool and calculating to let the occasion distract him from the task at hand.
"Mourinho going back to Chelsea is a big thing for him but he is very professional and will be prepared for the situation," Eto’o said.
"Chelsea are the favourites and the pressure is on them. Every minute that passes without a goal on Tuesday will add to that pressure. They will feel the tension.
"We will attack them from the start and if we win this game then I believe we will go on to win the Champions League."
Mourinho turned previously under-achieving Chelsea into two-time Premier League winners and also lifted the FA Cup and League Cup during his tumultuous three-year reign.
Ancelotti would love to leave Chelsea with a similar collection of trophies on his CV, but for now he knows it is just vital to get one over on his old rival.
Mourinho infuriated former AC Milan boss Ancelotti with a series of barbs during their short time as competitors in Italy, but the Chelsea boss refuses to turn the tie into a personality clash.
"There is no problem with Mourinho. It’s a game between Chelsea and Inter, not me against Mourinho," Ancelotti said.
"We know it will be a difficult game against an excellent team, but I think we have a good possibility to do our best to win and go forward. The atmosphere is a good atmosphere to have before a game against Inter.
"I think we don’t have time to be worried. We have to stay concentrated, have confidence, have courage, have personality, only with this can we win the game.
"I’m excited because it’s a fantastic game. All the world will look at this game and this is a very good motivation for me. It is my favourite competition. For Chelsea it is important, but so is the championship.
"It is important to stay calm. These are the games that put a lot of pressure on us. We have to have good control of this pressure because this is the right way to play well."
Since beating Chelsea at the San Siro, Inter have won just once in three matches, with Friday’s 3-1 defeat at Catania a particularly humbling result.
In contrast, Chelsea looked to have rediscovered their verve in Saturday’s 4-1 rout of West Ham.
With senior goalkeepers Petr Cech and Hilario likely to be sidelined through injury, young replacement keeper Ross Turnbull will be under the microscope in just his fourth appearance for the Blues.
But, as ever, Mourinho will be the only man commanding the spotlight at full-time.