FC Internazionale Milano director and former player Luís Figo is predicting "a fantastic and emotional return" after the Italian champions were drawn against coach José Mourinho's former side Chelsea FC in the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League.
Mourinho spent three successful seasons at Chelsea, winning the Premier League in 2005 and 2006 as well as twice taking the London club to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League before departing in September 2007. He returns to London looking to get one over his old side as Inter target their first European Champion Clubs' Cup title since 1965.
'Nothing to prove'
"It's going to be difficult for both teams because they're both very strong and they're dominating their leagues," said Figo, who turned out for Inter from 2005 until his retirement last season. "Mourinho has nothing to prove. He arrived at Chelsea and brought titles to a club that had not won anything for a long time. The people love him so I think it's going to be a fantastic and emotional return."
Mourinho suffered a disappointing return to England at the same stage last season when his side bowed out against Manchester United FC. Striker Samuel Eto'o, though, has happier memories, having helped his former side FC Barcelona overcome Chelsea in the semi-finals last May. "[Chelsea] are a difficult team to beat, but in the knockout stage there is no big difference between one team and another, they're all strong," he said.
These two sides have never met before in European club competition, but Mourinho knows his opposite number Carlo Ancelotti well. Ancelotti, who coached Inter's rivals Milan from 2001 to 2009, got the better of Mourinho, then FC Porto coach, in the 2003 UEFA Super Cup final. Honours were even, a victory apiece, when the pair went head-to-head in Serie A last season, then most recently, Ancelotti's Chelsea beat Inter in a friendly this summer.
Ancelotti will make a swift return to San Siro with the first leg to be played on 24 February ahead of the return at Stamford Bridge on 16 March. "For him it will be an emotional game because I think Mourinho did a very good job here in Chelsea," said Ancelotti. "Playing against Chelsea will not be easy for him. He will do his best to win. I said Inter were one of the strongest teams in the second phase. We have to accept this draw because if you think of winning the Champions League we have to fight against a strong team. Inter is a very good team, I know them very well and it will be a tough game."
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