Oct 17 2010 By Dan Levene
CARLO Ancelotti says Spartak Moscow's plastic pitch could pose a risk to the health and safety of some of his Chelsea players on Tuesday night.
The Blues boss said the pitch provided an obvious advantage for the home side, and that he would rest Michael Essien – whose recent recovery from a long-standing knee injury could be at risk.
“We have to take into consideration the artificial pitch,” said Ancelotti.
“We have some players like Essien – he has an injury – to play there is not a good idea. If it is possible, I don't want to put him on that pitch. I want to give him a rest.”
The Chelsea squad flew out to Russia on Sunday to play the Champions League group game at Spartak's Luzhniki Stadium – the scene of the Blues' defeat to Manchester United in the competition's 2008 final.
On that occasion, John Terry famously slipped on the sodden artificial turf while taking part in a penalty shoot-out – missing the goal and ultimately handing the trophy to Sir Alex Ferguson's Reds.
But Ancelotti believes Chelsea will be able to negate any advantage Spartak have this week by playing better football than their opponents.
He said: “Obviously they have an advantage, because they are are used to playing there. But I think we can use all our skills and all our abilities.
“It is the first time for me that my team plays on this kind of pitch. I think that UEFA want to... Their rule is that it is possible to play there, and so we have to play.”
Ancelotti confirmed that Chelsea will be without Didier Drogba for the trip – he also missed out on Saturday's 0-0 draw at Aston Villa thanks to a fever.
“He will stay here to train,” said the Blues boss. “I think he will be able to play against Wolves (on Saturday).”
Ancelotti said that he hoped Alex, Daniel Sturridge and Saloman Kalou would all return to fitness for the game in Moscow.