Mourinho takes dig at Rodgers' Liverpool team selection

Jose Mourinho Chelsea

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers defended his controversial team selection for the Champions League game at Real Madrid, but Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho could not resist a sly dig.

Brendan Rodgers' decision to leave out several key Liverpool players for Tuesday night's Champions League game at Real Madrid was met with astonishment by many, not least Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

Following the 3-0 defeat to the European champions at Anfield a fortnight ago, Rodgers opted to leave captain Steven Gerrard, Mario Balotelli, Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson on the bench, with the likes of Javier Manquillo, Lucas Leiva and Fabio Borini drafted in to face a side in the midst of an 11-game winning-streak.

However, the Northern Irishman denied his team selection was made with an eye on Saturday's home game against Chelsea, telling ITV pre-match: 'I think we've got a strong team out for the game.

'We're certainly not forfeiting the game in any way, we've got nine full internationals playing and two Under-21 internationals, so we've actually got a strong team.

'Our last game that we won was against Swansea City and a lot of these players played in that game.

'The Premier League and Champions League are two big competitions for us.'

Nevertheless, when asked about Rodgers' team selection at a press conference ahead of his side's clash against Maribor, Mourinho couldn't resist the urge to take a dig at the his former reserve team coach.

'If one day I go to a game and I don’t feel I can win, maybe I don’t go,' he said.

'So, normally, against the most difficult opponents, I will try to go with my best team. But who knows? Liverpool might play a fantastic match and win and rest players and the players are in great condition to play against Chelsea. In this case it might be a genius decision. In football it is difficult to comment.'

Rodgers' 'weakened' side ultimately performed better than expected on the night, suffering only a 1-0 defeat, but one now wonders how the result might have differed had the Reds been at full strength.

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