AP NEWS
Related topics

Mourinho has sights set on joining elite in Champions League

March 9, 2015

MILAN (AP) — After winning the English League Cup to end a trophy drought of nearly three years, Jose Mourinho now has his sights set on joining Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley as the only managers to win the Champions League or European Cup three times.

Chelsea will first have to get past Paris Saint-Germain in its last-16 tie, however. Chelsea and PSG drew their first match 1-1 last month, with Mourinho’s men having the advantage of the away goal.

However, PSG has only failed to score once in 16 matches in 2015 and is on a 14-match unbeaten run.

In other last-16 matches this week, Bayern Munich hosts Shakhtar Donetsk and Porto hosts Basel.

Bayern doesn’t have the advantage of an away goal after being held 0-0 in Ukraine, while Porto drew 1-1 in Switzerland.

Real Madrid has one foot in the quarterfinals after beating Schalke 2-0 and will be confident about progressing at the Bernabeu.

Here are some other things to know about this week’s Champions League matches:

___

CHELSEA-PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Since the 1-1 draw in the first leg, Chelsea has strengthened its position at the top of the Premier League and won the English League Cup, setting up the prospect of a domestic double.

Adding the Champions League title to the haul is the hardest job for Jose Mourinho, but he has already done it twice and Branislav Ivanovic’s away goal in Paris three weeks ago has given Chelsea the advantage heading into the second leg.

Chelsea has midfield anchorman Nemanja Matic back from a ban — he should shrug off an ankle injury — and the squad was able to rest this weekend, having already been eliminated from the FA Cup.

PSG heads into the game full of confidence after Saturday’s 4-1 home win against Caen. The team is unbeaten in 14 games.

Coach Laurent Blanc was criticized for his tactical choices last season, when PSG led 3-1 from the first leg, chose to defend and ended up losing 2-0, getting knocked out of the tournament.

“Of course we believe we can win,” he said. “There’s no point going there if we don’t.”

Blanc has urged his players to improve their finishing after they squandered chances against Caen and in the 0-0 draw away to Monaco the previous week.

“In the last two matches we’ve missed 10 or 12 clear-cut chances — and I mean clear-cut ones,” he said. “We won’t get that many against Chelsea.”

On the injury front, PSG hopes to have midfielder Yohan Cabaye available after a thigh injury.

___

REAL MADRID-SCHALKE

Real Madrid will welcome the arrival of Schalke on Tuesday as it looks to rebound from a second straight stumble that has cost it the lead of the Spanish league to rival Barcelona.

Madrid holds a commanding 2-0 advantage from its victory in the first leg in Germany, and the reigning European champions will be looking to jump-start an attack that stalled in a 1-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao over the weekend.

Even prolific scorer Cristiano Ronaldo has been stymied of late. The Ballon d’Or holder failed to get off a shot on goal against Bilbao and has only scored five times in 2015. Strike partner Gareth Bale has fared even worse, failing to score in eight straight matches.

Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti acknowledged his team has lost its confidence, calling its attack “confusing.”

“There isn’t enough connection between players, it is too individualistic,” he said. “We need another way of attacking.”

Schalke finally came up with a performance to please its fans, outplaying Hoffenheim 3-1. Schalke had been under fire for a cautious approach with little attacking flair and dull matches recently.

The team finally clicked on Saturday, playing fluid, passing football as young talent Max Meyer scored twice.

“Max played an outstanding match, he was decisive for this win,” Schalke coach Roberto di Matteo said.

“We created a lot of chances, but now we have a very difficult match in Madrid. We’ll enjoy this win for a couple of hours but then we have to prepare for the Champions League.”

___

BAYERN MUNICH-SHAKHTAR DONETSK

Coach Pep Guardiola gave his team Sunday off following a hard-earned 3-1 win in Hannover that gave Bayern an 11-point lead in the Bundesliga again.

“Hannover were superb in defense and that’s why it was difficult for us,” Guardiola said after the match.

Director Matthias Sammer said he expected a tough match against Shakhtar Donetsk.

“We have to produce a top performance. It’s going to be very, very difficult. But we are ready,” he said.

Guardiola said the match against Donetsk is “a final, we must win.”

Despite notching another victory, Bayern labored against Hannover’s tight defense and did not appear in great form. Two of its goals came from set pieces.

Guardiola took off defender Dante just over a half-hour into the match, obviously not pleased with the Brazilian’s performance.

___

FC PORTO-BASEL

FC Porto, a two-time European champion, has a better continental pedigree than Basel, though the Portuguese club has reached the quarterfinals just once since clinching its last title in 2004.

Basel’s only quarterfinal appearance, meanwhile, was 41 years ago.

Porto is unbeaten in its last eight European home games. It was also undefeated in the group phase — a feat matched only by Real Madrid and Chelsea.

Jackson Martinez will be Porto’s target man. He has 17 goals after 24 rounds in the Portuguese league and is on course to be the domestic tournament’s top scorer for the third straight season.

The Colombian striker also scored five times in the six group games.

Basel comes into the match on the back of three successive wins and has a six-point lead at the top of the Swiss league.

___

AP writers Jerome Pugmire, Nesha Starcevic, Joseph Wilson and Barry Hatton contributed to this report.

AP RADIO
Update hourly