Chelsea v Juventus: ‘We’re ready to do the impossible & retain our crown’
Chelsea v Juventus: Roberto Di Matteo says his side can become the first team to defend the Champions League title
Roberto Di Matteo has declared his Chelsea side are ready to do the “impossible” and become the first team to successfully retain their Champions League title.
The Blues kick off the defence of the crown they won under the Italian’s stewardship with a home clash against Serie A champions Juventus on Wednesday night – and the Stamford Bridge boss knows they have their work cut out as they bid to preserve their status as European champions.
“It’s difficult [to retain it] because of the fierce competition that there is in the Champions League,” Di Matteo told a news conference on Tuesday. “Every season there are new strong teams coming in like PSG and Juventus and so on.
“That makes it very difficult and so far it’s proven impossible to win it twice [in a row]. It will be difficult for sure, but we’ll try – we’ll try and do the impossible.”
Chelsea’s triumph in Munich in May’s final capped a remarkable end to the season under Di Matteo, who took temporary charge following Andre Villas-Boas’s dismissal in March.
But the Italian insists his side, who he also led to FA Cup glory last term, must consign that victory to the history books and focus on challenging for silverware again this season.
“When you’re in a big club like Chelsea the pressure is always on to win more trophies and have more success,” he continued.
“I think everybody was pleased to finally bring the trophy home to Stamford Bridge but that’s the past. We’ve done it and now we have to look forward.”
And Di Matteo is under no illusions about the size of the task awaiting his side on Wednesday – Juventus are in fine form and are unbeaten in 42 league games.
“They’re a very strong team, everybody recognises that,” he said. “They’ve had a fantastic unbeaten run. They have quality within their team; experience, young players, dynamic players. They’re probably one of the most difficult teams we could have been drawn against.
“We’ve got three champions in our group: the Danish champions and the Ukrainian champions [and the Italian champions], so it’s going to be a difficult group for us.
“It’s a very competitive Champions League this year, even probably stronger and more difficult than last year.”
Chelsea v Juventus: Pre-match facts
• The teams met in the 2008-09 round of 16 when a 12th-minute Didier Drogba goal gave Chelsea a 1-0 first-leg victory in London before a 2-2 draw in Turin.
• Juventus have not won on their last 11 competitive outings in England, losing eight and drawing three, including their 2003 Champions League final penalty shoot-out defeat by AC Milan.
• Chelsea have finished as group winners in seven of their last nine campaigns, qualifying for the knockout rounds as runners-up in the other two years.
• Fernando Torres and Juan Mata scored past Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon in Spain’s 4-0 win against Italy in the Euro 2012 final.