LONDON (Sporting Alert) — Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will play Diego Costa in Wednesday night’s Champions League Group G clash at Maribor.
Costa played for 77-minutes in his return to action in the English Premier League win against QPR over the weekend, after missing four-games with a nagging hamstring injury.
The Spanish forward was one of the 22 players who travelled with Chelsea to Slovenia and Mourinho intends to play him as part of his preparations for the weekend’s EPL clash with Liverpool.
However, Costa will not play the full 90-minutes as the Portuguese coach, though looking to secure an early qualifying place in the last 16, is expected to rotate his squad.
Chelsea hammered Maribor 6-0 a fortnight ago, but the Blues manager believes things will be a bit tougher away from Stamford Bridge.
“The 6-0 win is a fake situation because it was the only match, along with the game against Everton, where one chance was one goal,” he said.
“I know they are a good team, I watched them against Sporting and Schalke mainly, but I also watched a couple of matches from the Slovenian league.
“They are well-organised and have good players who try to play offensive football.”
Chelsea dominated the game the last time they face Maribor and Mourinho said everything just went well on that day for his team.
“Normally, to score goals, we need a lot of chances and many times we’ve paid the price,” he said.
“Against Maribor everything went in our direction, the first opportunity we had was a goal, the second was a goal and so on.”
Another English Premier League side in action on Wednesday is Manchester City, who play host to CSKA Moscow in Group E at Etihad Stadium.
Manuel Pellegrini side wasted a two-goal lead and were held 2-2 in Russia when these two teams last met.
The defending Premier League champions have just two points from their opening games, but Pellegrini remains grounded
“I think it is a very important game but it is not a ‘death’ game because until mathematics can’t fix (it), you can continue,” he said.
“We must win this game because we have just two points and we have three games to play and it is very important to have more points.
“But we will consider it not a final game but a very, very important game.”
Meanwhile, after Cristiano Ronaldo fired blank against Liverpool on Tuesday night in the race to break the Champions League all-time scoring record, the attention now turns to Lionel Messi when he and Barcelona meet Ajax.
Messi has 69 goals to his name and need two goals to draw level with Raul (71) at the top of the scoring list.
Ronaldo has scored 70 goals in the elite European competition.
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Bayern Munich v Roma
Maribor v Chelsea
Paris v APOEL
Ajax v Barcelona
Athletic v FC Porto
Sporting v Schalke
Manchester City v CSKA Moskva
Shakhtar Donetsk v BATE