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The Chelsea FC players will use the absence of José Mourinho from their UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg against FC Bayern München as an extra spur to show that they can win without the influence of their manager.
Mourinho is serving a two-match touchline ban imposed by the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body and has decided not to attend Stamford Bridge, preferring to watch on television in a "peaceful, private place".
While Mourinho's coaching staff made light of the situation, claiming they would be briefed in advance about potential changes during the game, both Bayern coach Felix Magath and Robert Huth, Chelsea's German-born defender, believe it could have a positive effect for the home team. Magath said: "It could affect the game either way, as the ban could make the players work their socks off for him."
Huth said it would be "a blow" that Mourinho would not be able to have his say in the dressing room before the game or at half-time but "a boost as well. We can show everyone what we can do without him.
I feel the players might perform that bit better because the manager is not there. We want to show the manager what we can do."
Magath is relishing both the "special atmosphere at English grounds" and the opportunity to avenge Chelsea's last 16 victory against his former club VfB Stuttgart a year ago. "I am sure it will be a great game," said Magath, whose team return to London having eliminated Arsenal FC. "Chelsea are runaway Premiership leaders and present a great challenge. We want the best result possible to take back to Munich, will look to play football and make things difficult for them.
"We know their style having watched their game with [FC] Barcelona," Magath continued. "They rely on the counterattack, will look to hold the ball and draw us in. But we are well prepared and can achieve a better result than Barça managed. Chelsea must do more than counterattack, which would help us achieve a result."
Magath believes the German winter break could again work to Bayern's advantage against English opponents, explaining: "Our players are fresh, whereas the Arsenal players seemed to be feeling the effects of playing games at Christmas and new year. We have the will to win and the team has the character to match Chelsea, play our usual open game and make chances."
Bayern have been boosted by forward Roy Makaay's recovery from a hamstring injury that forced the Dutchman, who has seven goals in the competition, to limp out of last weekend's match against VfL Wolfsburg. However, a similar injury sidelines Claudio Pizarro while Martin Demichelis and Chelsea striker Mateja Kezman are suspended. The home side are also without Arjen Robben, who is likely to miss both encounters after damaging ankle ligaments. A broken foot keeps out Paulo Ferreira but forward Mikael Forssell returns from a six-month injury lay-off which cut short his loan at Birmingham City FC with a place on the bench.
Both clubs lead the way in their respective divisions and have their sights set on three trophies this season. Bayern midfield player Michael Ballack rates Chelsea as favourites but added that his team is "very motivated.
There has been a lot of money invested in Bayern in recent years but we are a team. We look to our teamwork and organisation; that will be decisive."
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