MILAN - Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho
said Wednesday's Champions League last-16 first leg may be even
harder because it is against a Chelsea team he knows so well.
The outspoken Portuguese left the London club in 2007 after
winning two Premier League titles and claimed an Italian
scudetto in his first season at Inter last term.
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"I know Chelsea well but it doesn't mean it's easier.
Sometimes it's more difficult because when you know so much
about a team ... you can get into trouble," Mourinho told a news
conference at Inter's training ground on Tuesday.
"I played against (former club) Porto with Chelsea the year
after I left. It was my team, my players. It was not easy."
Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti moved in the opposite
direction, leaving Inter's big rivals AC Milan in May to take
over at Stamford Bridge.
"Carlo Ancelotti knows Inter very well. He has worked his
whole life in Italian football so I don't think it's an
advantage at all (that I know Chelsea)," Mourinho added before
showering praise on John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.
Mourinho has been banned for three Serie A matches by the
Italian league after his latest controversial caper, making a
handcuffs gesture during Saturday's 0-0 draw with Sampdoria.
He refused to talk about the suspension but threatened to
cause more bother when asked about Ancelotti being quoted as
saying most of Italy would be supporting Chelsea on Wednesday.
"If he says that, it's because he knows, because someone
told him or because he belongs to the clan," he said, without
specifying what he meant.
While Italian journalists were left stunned by his use of
the word clan given the country's mafia past, on the other side
of the city Ancelotti was starting his news conference at his
old San Siro haunt.
"I never said this (that non-Inter supporters in Italy will
support Chelsea). It's not my style to say things like that.
They've been opponents for many years and I will respect them
tomorrow like I have always," Ancelotti said.
Ancelotti, who said he would not accidently walk into the
home dressing room on Wednesday, wanted his team to concentrate
and ignore tabloid stories about Terry and Ashley Cole.
"I was very surprised (English newspapers discussed players'
private lives) but the surprise will end very quickly. However,
I respect the culture," he said when asked if it was better in
Italy where off-the-field activities are ignored.
"We are focused on these important games and nothing else.
It won't change our motivation for this game what happened
outside of our dressing room."
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