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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 15, 2008

Chelsea's Ballack 'half ready' for Bordeaux match

LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Michael Ballack could return for last season's runners-up Chelsea in their Champions League opener against Girondins Bordeaux on Tuesday, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said on Monday.

"Ballack is training now and tomorrow should be half ready," the Brazilian World Cup winning coach told a news conference.

The London side, who lost this year's final against Manchester United, will definitely be without striker Didier Drogba who is suspended after being sent off during that match in Moscow.

Scolari, making his first foray into Europe's top club competition, refused to concede that his primary objective this season was to win the Champions League after three semi-final appearances and a final over the last five years.

"I know Chelsea have been trying to win this competition for many years and last year they arrived at the final which was fantastic," the Brazilian, who took over from Avram Grant after the final, said.

"We have to win all competitions not just this competition. If you say this competition is more important that the others I say no.

"All are important -- Premier League , the FA Cup, the Carling Cup. My players need to do their best for all games and in all training, if not I won't choose them to play."

Scolari said he had not discussed last May's painful defeat with his players and was looking forward rather than behind.

Midfielder John Obi Mikel, who will play in the defensive midfield position that Michael Essien might have occupied had he not injured ligaments playing for Ghana, said the players had felt dreadful in Moscow.

"But it's been a long time since then...and we all want to start again, get it back and do well," he said.

Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc said Chelsea, with their enormous strength in depth, were overwhelming favourites in Group A but added his side had not come to London just to make up numbers.

"Sure we have a young team and we will gain expreience coming here but we have also come to win points not just to learn," the former France defender said.

"Hopefully we'll be involved in this group right to the very end to secure qualification."

"We have nothing to lose, absolutely nothing...We have not come here just to do some shopping and then go home after the game... we will play our own game".

Blanc said he and his coaching staff had been watching Chelsea since the draw, looking at their strengths and weaknesses.

"On their weaknesses we have not spent much time because there are very few, on their strengths we had to stop looking at them or we would never have got to bed at night..." he said.

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