Jose Mourinho will be hoping his men stay focused on tonight’s Uefa Champions League Group G tie in Maribor ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash at Anfield. While Manchester City – still in search of their first win in Europe this season - host CSKA Moscow, looking to make amends for their poor second-half showing in Russia last time out.
Chelsea could all but qualify for the knockout stages with two games to spare should they win in Slovenia tonight. The visitors won 6-0 in the reverse fixture two weeks ago, however the Chelsea boss has since labelled the result as ‘fake’, claiming everything went in his side’s favour and that Maribor are a much better outfit than what the Stamford Bridge scoreline suggested.
There are no fresh injury worries for the Blues, but the Portuguese manager may rotate his options with one eye on Liverpool this weekend. Diego Costa is available after returning against Queens Park Rangers following his four-game absence, but fellow forward Loic Remy and midfielder John Obi Mikel are ruled out.
Manchester City sit third in Group E having only picked up two points in this season’s Champions League campaign, four less than this time last year. They welcome CSKA Moscow to the Etihad looking to exact revenge after the away side climbed from two goals down to prevent City from their first three-point haul last month.
Aleksander Kolorov has been ruled out for up to a month after suffering a calf injury in the warm-up prior to Sunday’s Manchester derby, whilst Frank Lampard misses tonight’s game as well having not fully recovered from a thigh problem.
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Manuel Pellegrini will also be without playmaker David Silva who is expected to miss the next three weeks due to a knee injury, but Eliaquim Mangala is once again available after overcoming a hip complaint.
Their Russian opponents have a few injury woes of their own, Swedish midfielder Rasmus Elm (stomach) and summer signing Kirill Panchenko (knee) are out of the game, however City will have to keep an eye on the highly rated Alan Dzagoev who returns after suspension.
The big story outside of England is of course Luis Suarez’s comeback to Europe’s elite after four years - against his old club Ajax, whom he captained the last time he appeared in the competition.
Suarez scored 111 goals in 159 games for Ajax, five of those in his 11 Champions League appearances for the Dutch club.
His Barcelona side sit second in Group F after losing 3-1 in Paris on the opening match day. However they could still seal a last 16 place tonight with two games to spare, should they beat Suarez's former team and PSG see off APOEL at the Parc des Princes.
Elsewhere Bayern meet Roma at the Allianz Arena in the other Group E game. Pep Guardiola’s team could secure top spot with a victory and leave City, Roma and CSKA to battle it out for second in the remaining two match days.
Sporting must win at home to Schalke in Group G if they have ambitions of staying in the competition, whilst the same goes for Athletic Bilbao who host Group H leaders FC Porto. And finally, Shaktar Donetsk could take a big step towards knockout football when they welcome BATE Borisov in the second Group H fixture.
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