UEFA Champions League

Roberto Mancini Aims Fresh Dig at Jose Mourinho Ahead of Chelsea vs. Galatasaray

GENOA, ITALY - MARCH 09:  Roberto Mancini looks on during the Serie A match between UC Sampdoria and AS Livorno Calcio at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on March 9, 2014 in Genoa, Italy.  (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)
Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2014

Roberto Mancini has taken a sly dig at Jose Mourinho ahead of Galatasaray's trip to face Chelsea in the Champions League, suggesting the Blues boss doesn't have any friends in football.

The pair clashed prior to the round of 16 first-leg tie on Feb. 26, but Mancini believes he said "normal things" before suggesting Mourinho is something of a loner, per Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard: "In Istanbul we saw each other and said only 'hello.' We certainly aren't friends. ... I don't think Mourinho wants to have friends, or maybe that's just the way he likes to appear."

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 26:  Jose Mourinho manager of Chelsea shakes hands with Head Coach Roberto Mancini of Galatasaray at the final whistle during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Galatasaray AS and Chelsea at Ali Sami
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Mancini previously aimed to belittle Mourinho's success when the Portuguese manager replaced him as Inter Milan boss in 2008. "Mourinho won the Champions League because he took a good team," said Mancini, as reported by ESPN.co.uk.

Mourinho responded with his usual wit, giving Mancini little room to respond by suggesting the Italian only built half a team at the San Siro: "It's funny because my (Inter) team in the final had Lucio, Thiago Motta, Diego Milito, Samuel Eto'o, Goran Pandev and Wesley Sneijder. From 11 players, he didn't work with six of them. So he made a five-a-side team because I played with only five players from his team."

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 15:  Jose Mourinho manager of Chelsea signals during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park on March 15, 2014 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

A week barely seems to go by without Mourinho making headlines through a quote or action. His latest incident came during Chelsea's recent defeat to Aston Villa, as he entered the pitch after Willian and Ramires were sent off, per Martin Lipton of the Mirror.

Galatasaray looked to be struggling during the opening stages of their tie with Mourinho's side, highlighted by Fernando Torres' simple finish on nine minutes. Mancini managed to trump his opposite number in the tactical stakes by altering his dynamic 4-2-4 formation to gain a foothold in the match.

The Turkish side played excellently after this first-half switch and fully deserved Aurelien Chedjou's equaliser with 25 minutes to go. In fact, few complaints could have been lodged had the underdogs headed to England with a first-leg win.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 26: Head Coach Roberto Mancini of Galatasaray gives instructions  during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Galatasaray AS and Chelsea at Ali Sami Yen Arena on February 26, 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Mancini can't afford to send out the wrong team at Stamford Bridge, where his fiery attitude is sure to help his players on their quest to cause an upset. Mourinho and his team will have plenty to think about if Galatasaray score early.

We can expect Mourinho to fire some sort of barb Mancini's way during his pre-match press conference, no matter how subtle it may be. "The Special One" rarely fails to react and will ensure he is in the spotlight ahead of the upcoming contest, keeping his players away from the press.

He has managed to redirect focus away from Ramires after his nasty red card challenge during the Villa match, per Martyn Ziegler of the Press Association:

Should a journalist tempt Mourinho with the right question, fireworks may ensure by the time Chelsea and Galatasaray head onto the pitch.

 


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