Roberto Di Matteo: Chelsea must seize chance to be kings of Europe
Roberto Di Matteo urges his Chelsea squad to seize their chance to win the Champions League after the disappointment of Moscow
Roberto Di Matteo has urged his Chelsea squad to seize their chance to finally win the Champions League ahead of their showdown with Bayern Munich on Saturday.
Chelsea lost to Manchester United on penalties in 2008, with John Terry squandering the opportunity to claim Europe’s top prize for the Blues before Nicolas Anelka missed his spot-kick in sudden death.
Di Matteo acknowledges that opportunities to win the European Cup are rare but believes that some senior squad members may not have expected a four-year wait before reaching another Champions League showpiece.
“To reach the Champions League final is very, very difficult,” said Di Matteo. “Even for younger players, they don’t know when they will have the chance again.
“Certainly, for our older players, it might be more difficult to be in a final or win it again.
“The last final happened four years ago – some of our players thought they would reach a final again but it didn’t prove that easy.”
Chelsea have a poor recent penalty shoot-out record in the Champions League. They were been beaten at the semi-final stage by Rafael Benítez’s Liverpool side in 2007 – and lost to United in a dramatic finale in Moscow the following year.
Di Matteo, who revealed his side have been practising spot-kicks all season, insists the Blues have banished memories of Moscow and is confident the Londoners can emerge victorious should a shoot-out be required to settle Saturday’s showdown.
“That was four years ago [the Moscow shoot-out] and people move on,” added the Chelsea interim boss.
“I think it’s a different game and a different team and as much as you want to talk about the past we are looking to the present and the future – and we’re going to prepare ourselves for every eventuality in the game.
“We’ve been practising all the way [through the competition] – not just this week.
“[We’ve been practising] a little more this week but all season we’ve been doing that. It is difficult to reproduce the same pressure of a penalty shoot-out but practice helps.”