By Trevor Haylett in London
Chelsea FC will be unable to call on Arjen Robben when they look to overturn FC Barcelona's advantage from the first leg of their UEFA Champions League first knockout round tie tonight. The Dutch winger, so influential in the London club's success this season, has not recovered from his foot injury and will play no part.
It is a blow for José Mourinho, who was hoping to throw Robben into a game which has dominated discussion in England and Spain since the first thrilling encounter finished 2-1 in Barcelona's favour. Already without Didier Drogba, whose red card at Camp Nou rules him out, the Chelsea manager faces a difficult hurdle in his quest to defend the trophy he won last season with FC Porto and knows his team will have to improve if they are to reach the quarter-finals.
"In the first game Barcelona were better than us, so we need to play better than them this time," said Mourinho when asked what would be the key to a Chelsea triumph. "They want to get to the quarter-final and we want to do the same."
Mourinho refused to respond to reported criticism of his team's style from the Barcelona players and also denied there is any animosity between the two camps. "
They are winning 2-1 and there are 90 minutes, or two hours, to go," Mourinho explained. "We feel Didier Drogba should be in the game, he isn't, so it's had an influence in both matches. But we have to accept it and do without him."
Barcelona, who are without centre-half Rafael Márquez but can call on attacker Ludovic Giuly after a back injury, insist they will not be affected by the intense build-up that has preceded the game between the respective leaders of the Premiership and Primera División. "We are all aware it will be a tough game, an important game, but these are the games professionals want to play in," said Barça coach Frank Rijkaard.
He then outlined the differences between the style of play of the two teams. "We can't afford to forget that Chelsea have some very good attacking players who can hurt you but I think it's true to say that Chelsea go for the result a little more than Barcelona. We play to entertain the season ticket holders with the result obviously being important in every single case while Chelsea play more on the counter than we do."
Rijkaard was also anxious to play down any suggestion that he and his opposite number do not get on. "Mourinho is doing a great job and is a very successful coach," he said. "Everyone has the right to say what he wants and to act the way he prefers and if that's his chosen form and he's happy with it, I'm not one to complain about it.
The nice thing about life is that people are different and it's the same in football. Not everyone is alike and that's OK, otherwise it would be a boring situation."
A clue to the reception Barcelona are expecting from the London club, who will go through with a 1-0 victory, came from defender Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who said they must prepare to withstand a fierce Chelsea onslaught at the start. "We are aware that Chelsea are strong at home and the first ten-15 minutes will be decisive," he said. "We need to weather the storm. Then, when we create a chance, it's important that we put it away."
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