Chelsea set to name third-choice goalie

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Chelsea will be down to third-choice goalkeeper Hilario when it faces defending champion FC Barcelona in the European Champions League.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:37 IST
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Chelsea will be down to third-choice goalkeeper Hilario when it faces defending champion FC Barcelona and its legion of stars in the European Champions League. At least that's better than having John Terry in goal. Jose Mourinho had the England centerback don the keeper's shirt in the final moments of Saturday's 1-0 victory over Reading after his first two choices ended up in the hospital: Petr Cech with a depressed fracture of his skull and Carlo Cudicini also with a head injury. "I don't care about football. I care about my two friends," Mourinho said. "Barcelona is Barcelona, football is football and I don't care about it. For me other things are more important. "I want Petr and Carlo out of the hospital. Barcelona is a football game, an important one, but I care more about my players." That leaves Hilario to make his competitive debut for the Blues against Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday as the two powerhouse teams meet for the third consecutive year. Barcelona eliminated Chelsea from the competition last season a year after the Blues ousted the Catalan team. The two teams face each other again in back-to-back group games although the likelihood is both will still be in the competition by the time the knockout round arrives. Chelsea goes into Wednesday's team with a maximum six points after beating Group A rivals Werder Bremen and Levski Sofia, while Barcelona, which crushed Levski 5-0 and drew with Bremen, has four. Bremen has one point and Levski none. Barca manager Frank Rijkaard, whose team goes on to face Real Madrid after the Chelsea match, rested defender Carles Puyol and forward Lionel Messi for Sunday's Spanish League game against Sevilla. Rijkaard said that Spanish international Puyol was injured while training with the national squad and sat out its 2-1 victory over Argentina on Wednesday. "Before yesterday it was something that was annoying him," the Barca coach said. "It's feeling better but it's better if he focuses on the next two games." Inter Milan struggling While Chelsea and Barcelona appear on course for the last 16, Inter Milan is struggling at the foot of its group without a point or even a goal. Roberto Mancini's team looks to improve its fortunes against next-to-last Spartak Moscow at home and make up ground on four-time European Cup winner Bayern Munich, which has six points from two games. Bayern visits Sporting Lisbon, which has four. "We have to win at all costs against a team that never stops playing," Mancini said. "It will be a hard game and we'll need the support of all our crowd. They will be able to give us the big boost we need to win." Manchester United, Valencia and Lyon already have opened three-point lead atop their groups. After winning 3-1 at Wigan on Saturday, Alex Ferguson's Red Devils will be heavily favored for a third straight victory in Group F against last place FC Copenhagen at Old Trafford on Tuesday. A victory over the Danes and a draw between second place Celtic (three points) and Benfica (one) would put Ferguson's team on the verge of a spot in the last 16 with games to spare. Valencia, which tops Group D, hosts last place Shakhtar Donetsk and is three points clear of second place AS Roma, which goes to Olympiakos. French champion Lyon has yet to concede a goal at the top of Group E and goes to last place Dynamo Kiev while second place Real Madrid visits Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday. Madrid, which has won a record nine European Cup titles, is coming off its first loss of the Spanish league season, a 1-0 defeat Saturday at Getafe when Ronaldo was sent off and Raul Gonzalez left with a sprained ankle. Italian captain Fabio Cannavaro should start in Bucharest after missing the Getafe match to rest his sore knee, but defender Michel Salgado is doubtful, while midfielder Jose Antonio Reyes and defender Cicinho are definitely out. Last season's Champions League runner-up, Arsenal has won six straight, four in the English Premier League and two in Group G. It hopes to add to Saturday's 3-0 victory over Watford with a triumph at second place CSKA Moscow on Tuesday. Atop of one of the easiest groups with four points and not having conceded a goal, six-time European Cup winner AC Milan seeks a victory at second place Anderlecht on Tuesday while third place Lille hosts AEK Athens. Five-time winner Liverpool is level on points with PSV Eindhoven at the top of Group C but sits in 10th in the Premier League. Rafa Benitez's team was held 1-1 at home at Blackburn on Saturday to slip to eight points off the lead. It hopes to revive with a victory at Bordeaux on Wednesday knowing that a loss likely will mean that PSV goes clear by gaining three points at third place Galatasaray. (AP)

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