Mourinho heaps praise on Terry ahead of Atletico showdown
John Terry earns special praise from Jose Mourinho in the build-up to Chelsea's clash with Atletico Madrid
John Terry has earned special praise from Jose Mourinho in the build-up to Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid.
The Blues captain has been declared fit for the return leg at Stamford Bridge after recovering from the ankle injury he suffered in last week’s goalless draw at the Vicente Calderon.
I’m really happy to see a player like him six or seven years later back at the same level
And Mourinho was gushing with praise for the 33-year-old defender ahead of Wednesday’s crunch clash in west London.
“My captain is playing at the same level he was playing at when I left Chelsea in 2007,” said Mourinho. “It’s as simple as that. Six or seven years later he’s playing again at his best level. It’s fair to say that.
“It’s also fair to say the people that surround him, on his left and his right, and in front of him, are also playing fantastically. His partnership with Gary Cahill is fantastic and the people that work together in the same areas are doing a very good job.
“I’m really happy to see a player like him six or seven years later back at the same level. I think he deserves more than what the Champions League has given to him up to now.
“He lost a few semi-finals in special circumstances. He lost a final in special circumstances. He won a final in special circumstances because he couldn’t play. The Champions League owes him something.
“He starts tomorrow, of course.”
Chelsea v Atletico Madrid: Pre-match facts
• Chelsea have won only one of their four previous Uefa competition semi-finals against Spanish opponents, against Barcelona in the 2011-12 Champions League semi-finals. They lost to the same opponents in that competition in 2009 and, in the Cup Winners’ Cup, against Mallorca (1998/99) and Real Zaragoza (1994-95).
• Diego Simeone’s men have won three and drawn two of their five away games in this season’s competition and have won ten of their last 14 away games in European competition, losing just two.
• Born in the Madrid suburb of Fuenlabrada, Fernando Torres became Atletico’s youngest captain at 19 and scored 84 goals in 214 Liga appearances for the Rojiblancos before joining Liverpool in 2007.
• Samuel Eto’o’s 12 goals in all competitions this season have all come at home.