Yesterday we were presenting Keys for Chelsea to Beat Barcelona. Well, they actually did it! Here is Di Matteo’s reaction after the game:
‘I’m delighted with the performance of the team and the result we got tonight,’ said Di Matteo.
‘We’ve won all of our Champions League games at home, and we’ve faced some tough opponents, but tonight was one of the biggest challenges we’ve had.
‘It only happens when you play against Barcelona. I watched them against AC Milan and I watched them against Real Madrid, two of the best teams in Europe, and it was exactly the same, they have a unique style of play and with the quality players they have, that’s what they do to you, but I honestly think they are the only team capable of doing that.’
Alexis Sanchez saw a delicate lob bounce back off the bar for the visitors early in the game, while Cesc Fabregas had two chances to break the deadlock shortly before Drogba’s goal.
It was a similar story after the break, with Sanchez and Carlos Puyol going close before Pedro struck a post with almost the last kick of the game, and while Di Matteo acknowledged the Catalans had posed the far greater threat in front of goal, he insisted that it was all about taking chances.
‘The balance has to be good within the team, it’s not just the defenders who defend, it’s the whole team. You need to be able to close down the spaces as much as possible and limit their threat, but ultimately, with the ability of some of their individual players they will create problems. It wasn’t just our defenders, it was a collective effort,’ he said.
‘When you score a goal and win a game you deserve to win. Certainly they had more possession and a few more attempts on target but they always have that, so you need to be clinical and take your chances when you play against them, you know you will get some chances and you have to take them.
‘It doesn’t make us favourites, it’s 50-50 for both teams to get through to the final. You know what to expect in the Camp Nou, it’s going to be very difficult and we still have to believe that we can score a goal. It’s going to be a tough game, it’s a tough game for anybody that goes to Barcelona but we have to do our best again.’
With such an impressive result coming only three days after the 5-1 FA Cup semi-final win against Tottenham at Wembley, there is little doubt momentum is with the Blues in the middle of a testing set of fixtures.
It doesn’t get any easier, with a trip to the Emirates for a must-win league game on Saturday against Arsenal, but as the interim first team coach admitted there will, in all likelihood, be a number of changes to personnel for the London derby, he reaffirmed his belief that a side who has been written off by sections of the media deserve a great deal of credit for recent results.
‘Public opinion has been that these boys are over the hill and too old to play two games in succession,’ said Di Matteo. ‘ But they gave their answer on the pitch tonight. We go out as a team and we have a good team spirit, young and old play together and fight for the same target.
‘We have to assess the players in the morning but there’s a good chance some fresh players will come in, because they deserve to as well. I had to leave some players out tonight, but not because they didn’t deserve to play, just because I had to make a decision.’