Chelsea have ‘taken strength’ from Roberto Di Matteo, says Ramires
Brazilian midfielder Ramires says Roberto Di Matteo has restored the confidence that was missing during Andre Villas-Boas's reign
Ramires believes Roberto Di Matteo has helped Chelsea rediscover the confidence that had deserted them during Andre Villas-Boas’s reign at Stamford Bridge.
The 41-year-old Italian coach has led the Blues to six wins from eight since taking the reigns from Villas-Boas in early March.
Chelsea can set up a Champions League semi-final showdown with Barcelona if they can get past Benfica on Wednesday night, and the Blues have already booked a meeting with Tottenham in the last four of the FA Cup.
The Blues trail fourth-placed Spurs by five points in the Premier League in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League – but Ramires is confident the Londoners can end the season on a high, insisting they have gone from “strength to strength” since Di Matteo took over.
“We went through a tough period, obviously, but have taken strength from this change in the coach,” said Ramires. “We have found great confidence after that change, feeling more respect in ourselves.
“Roberto has brought in some new ideas and instilled great confidence in us all.
“It’s difficult to explain the change in our fortunes but we have begun to realise we are a great team with great players and have built from our first victory under him [in his first game, against Birmingham City in the FA Cup] and simply gone from strength to strength.”
Pre-match facts: Chelsea v Benfica
• Chelsea have made Stamford Bridge something of a fortress on Champions League nights this term. With their 4-1 comeback win against Napoli in the last round, the London club have now recorded four straight victories and scored 14 goals with just one conceded.
• Including last season, Chelsea have suffered just one defeat, against Manchester United in the 2010-11 quarter-finals, in their last nine home fixtures in Europe.
• Benfica have already got the better of one Premier League side in this campaign, having earned two draws with Manchester United as they finished top of their group with the English champions down in third place.
• Benfica have appeared in 15 European Cup quarter-finals, winning eight and losing seven – including all three against English sides.