Chelsea ‘very positive’ ahead of Benfica clash, insists Di Matteo
Chelsea interim boss Roberto Di Matteo insists the Blues are ready to record their first European away victory this term at Benfica
Roberto Di Matteo insists his Chelsea players are in confident mood ahead of their Champions League quarter-final first leg at Benfica on Tuesday.
The Blues, who are the only British side left in European competition this season, were held to a goalless draw by Tottenham at the weekend after their 2-1 defeat at Manchester City in midweek.
With their hopes of a top-four finish in the Premier League dented by Saturday’s stalemate, the Chelsea interim boss had no choice but to admit the Londoners have endured a “difficult” season at his pre-match news conference on Monday.
But the Italian is adamant his side can end their campaign on a high in both the Champions League and the FA Cup.
“We have had a difficult season, the numbers say that so it is no point denying it,” he said. “But we have a lot of quality, many good players and I still think this Chelsea team is a very good team.
“Chelsea is used to being in the top two or top three but we are in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and the semi-finals of the FA Cup, and I have a lot of faith in this team.
“They have shown they can play with high intensity and I am positive. Because of the conversations I have had with them I know my players are very positive as well.
“We have scored 13 goals in the last six games and we have had three clean sheets so the team is in good shape and looks defensively solid.”
Questions still remain over £50m striker Fernando Torres’ form, with the Spaniard only managing to notch up six goals this season – but Di Matteo remains unconcerned.
“I don’t care who scores for my team as long as somebody does,” he continued. “And it has been proven in the last games that everybody seems to be getting goals – Didier Drogba has scored, Fernando Torres has scored and a lot of players have scored as well.
“I believe this team has all the ability to play a very good game tomorrow night and show all their qualities.”
Pre-match facts: Benfica v Chelsea
• Two-time winners Benfica have not got beyond the last eight since 1990 while Chelsea, by contrast, have been regular semi-finalists in the past decade
• This is the teams’ first meeting but Chelsea’s many Portuguese connections should ensure the trip holds few surprises – not least for David Luiz and Ramires, members of Jorge Jesus’s 2010 league title-winning Benfica side
• Benfica have already got the better of one Premier League side this season, having earned two draws with Manchester United as they finished top of their group with the English champions down in third place
• Chelsea are still seeking a first away victory in this season’s Champions League after two draws and then two defeats