Four years ago Wesley Sneijder and José Mourinho shared in the celebrations of FC Internazionale Milano's UEFA Champions League victory – but one is about to help end the other's dreams of a repeat in May.
Mourinho's Chelsea FC visit a Galatasaray AŞ side including Sneijder for Wednesday's round of 16 first leg, with much focus on the reunion between the Portuguese coach and former charges Didier Drogba and Sneijder – who also faces an ex-UEFA Champions League and Italian double-winning Inter colleague in Samuel Eto'o. The Dutch international playmaker, who scored the 85th-minute winner that took Galatasaray past Juventus in the group stage, knows his friendship with his former manager will be on hold in Istanbul.
"What can I say about Mourinho?" Sneijder said. "We won this trophy together. But tomorrow is completely different, although outside the match we are friends. It's an important game, a game I want to win. I respect him a lot as we all respect Chelsea. We want to go all out for victory. A goal against Juventus won't change the world. It was a big achievement but we want more."
Sneijder's current boss is Mourinho's immediate predecessor at Inter, Roberto Mancini. "I have to say that all coaches are different," the 29-year-old said. "I have had good ones and not-so-good ones. But those two, they are both good. I am very honest. Of course I have special feelings for Mourinho because we won the treble together. In our home games especially we are playing really well and tomorrow we'll be at home. Roberto Mancini and José Mourinho are different coaches in terms of personality but they are both good tactically."
Galatasaray's last home match was Saturday's 1-0 Süper Lig defeat of Beşiktaş JK that took them above their neighbours into second, within four points of Fenerbahçe SK. It was their sixth straight clean sheet at the Ali Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi, and Sneijder confirmed that confidence is high.
"This will be a very important game but also a very nice one to play," he said. "It's amazing what we have achieved. Now we are here, we want more. It will be difficult. We feel confident as we had a good result at the weekend. We have to go for it and have to believe in it. Playing these games is good for the players at this level."
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