Just over a week ago, it seemed that Chelsea’s captain and defensive rock, John Terry, would be sitting out tonight’s big game. A badly twisted ankle, sustained in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final away to Atletico Madrid was initially given a dispiriting prognosis. The centre back was deemed unlikely to return to first team action until the very end of the season. Now however, a mere eight days after sustaining the injury, Terry is primed to return and face the Spanish club once more.
That the old warhorse is prepared to drag his ageing frame through another match, probably still carrying an injury that many others would not even contemplate playing with, speaks volumes not only for both the single-minded determination of the player, but also the his importance for Chelsea’s prospects of progressing to the final.
The desire of the player has never really been in question, and even if only half-fit, there would have been a burning determination to play. Sometimes, clubs have to protect players from their own commitment however, and it’s to be hoped that the club, as well as the player agree that putting Terry out onto the field again is a sensible move. Even with that in mind though, it’s probably safe to say that showing such commitment can only enhance the possibility of negotiations regarding a new contract for next season, turning out successfully.
Despite rumours to the contrary, with Peter Cech still massively unlikely to be available for the game following his shoulder injury in the first leg, having Terry available will give added stability to a defence likely to be tested by Diego Costa and others as Atletico seek an away goal that would give the Blues a mountain to climb. Welcoming Eden Hazard back to the first team will be a major boost to Chelsea’s ability to prise open the Spanish defence, but security at the back will inevitably be a fundamental part of Jose Mourinho’s strategy. Keep a clean sheet, and a single goal victory will suffice to qualify.
Tonight’s game is unlikely to match the one-sided affair of last evening when Ancelotti’s Madrid systematically dismantled Pep Guardiola’s possession-obsessed Bayern Munich with pace and power on the counter-attack. Being hit on the break however, will be something the Blues will need to have a care for. I can see this being a really tight game and Terry’s availability to organise and inspire may just be the difference to set up an intriguing final where both managers will have once been in control of the opposition club.
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