Jose wants big homecoming

Chelsea's Diego Costa (right) and John Obi Mikel during training. The Spaniard's ban does not cover Europe so he will be raring to play tonight.
Chelsea's Diego Costa (right) and John Obi Mikel during training. The Spaniard's ban does not cover Europe so he will be raring to play tonight.PHOTO: REUTERS

Blues boss needs another good result in Europe as Premier League struggles continue

PORTO • In the midst of a frustrating start to the season, Jose Mourinho returns to Portugal today as Chelsea face his old side Porto in the Champions League.

The London football club are looking to make it two wins out of two in Group G after their straightforward 4-0 victory over Maccabi Tel-Aviv at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago. But they must improve on another poor performance in the Premier League at the weekend.

Chelsea had to come from two goals down to draw 2-2 away with struggling Newcastle on Saturday.

But, as the Blues linger in 15th place having won just two of seven league games, a trip to his old home is the type of fixture which tends to galvanise Mourinho.

It is not the first time he has returned to Porto since leaving the Portuguese giants as a hero after leading them to Champions League glory in 2004.

Later that year, he went back as Chelsea manager and oversaw a 2-1 group-stage win as the two clubs qualified for the knockout rounds.

In 2007, Andriy Shevchenko's goal secured a 1-1 draw at the Estadio do Dragao to help Chelsea to a 3-2 aggregate victory in the last 16.

Mourinho would love another positive result this time with draining trips to Dynamo Kiev and Israel still to come. He can call on the services of bruising centre-forward Diego Costa for the trip to the banks of the Douro.

Costa is currently serving a suspension for violent conduct in domestic competition but he can play in Portugal, so the chances of Radamel Falcao facing the club for whom he starred between 2009 and 2011 appear slim.

There will be other reunions, though, and Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas will surely be determined to get one over on Mourinho after the two fell out at Real Madrid.

Casillas was sidelined during Mourinho's final months in charge in Madrid in 2013 and never really recovered, eventually leaving the Santiago Bernabeu two months ago for a new challenge with Porto.

He was in goal as Porto drew 2-2 away with Dynamo Kiev in their first group game.

They also drew 2-2 at the weekend with Moreirense, enabling them to remain unbeaten and on top of the Portuguese league.

"There are games in which things don't go well. It was a tough game and we need to recover," said Porto coach Julen Lopetegui, who was a goalkeeper at Barcelona in the mid-1990s, when Mourinho formed part of the backroom staff at the Nou Camp.

Algerian winger Yacine Brahimi injured his right knee during that game and missed training over the weekend, casting doubt over his chances of playing.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2015, with the headline 'Jose wants big homecoming'. Print Edition | Subscribe