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Friday, May 16, 2008

Chelsea Road To Champions League

Chelsea route to Moscow

The Blues kicked off their UEFA Champions League campaign back in September. We look at how they made it through to the final



Jose Mourinho's last European game as Chelsea manager ended in a drab draw in front of a half-empty Stamford Bridge as striker Andriy Shevchenko equalised Miika Koppinen's opening goal in their opening match in Group B.


Avram Grant's first game in the Champions League as Chelsea boss ended with victory at the Mestalla after Joe Cole and Didier Drogba helped the Blues fight back from David Villa's early strike.


Florent Malouda scored his first competitive goal in a Chelsea shirt and Drogba also found the net as the Blues cruised to a comfortable home victory over the Bundesliga outfit.


The German side proved more stubborn opponents away as Chelsea hung on for a goalless draw in Gelsenkirchen after goalkeeper Peter Cech had departed the field with a calf injury at half-time and was replaced by Carlo Cudicini.


A brace from Drogba and a goal apiece from Joe Cole and Alex saw Chelsea secure their place in the knockout stage of the competition as winners of Group B with a comprehensive victory.


Grant rested a number of players as Chelsea missed several chances to end the group stage on a high as they qualified for the second round with three wins and three draws, scoring nine goal and conceding two.



Grant started the match with John Terry and Frank Lampard on the bench and only the latter was called into action six minutes from the end as Chelsea battled to a goalless draw in Greece.


The Blues barely broke sweat as goals from Michael Ballack, Lampard and Salomon Kalou helped them stroll to victory in the second leg at Stamford Bridge and book the west Londoners' place in the quarter-finals.



Fenerbahce mounted a stunning comeback to shock Chelsea in front of a partisan crowd in Istanbul. Deivid put through his own net early in the match but London-born Colin Kazim-Richards equalised in spectacular fashion before Deivid found the net at the right end nine minutes from time.


Ballack eased Chelsea's nerves with a goal in the fourth minute of the second leg and Lampard made it safe with a goal three minutes from time although the Blues were forced to call upon third-choice goalkeeper Hilario after an injury to Cudicini.



The first leg of Chelsea's third Champions League semi-final with Rafael Benitez's side seemed to be going to form after Dirk Kuyt's goal before half-time in front of noisy Anfield. But John Arne Riise's bizarre injury-time own goal silenced the Kop and handed the Blues a crucial away goal.


Fernando Torres equalised Drogba's opening goal to take the match to extra time. But a Lampard penalty, and a second goal from Drogba gave Chelsea the initiative despite Ryan Babel's late strike as Riise's own-goal in the first leg proved the difference between the two sides.

Play me up front with Anelka and we'll win Euro final, Drogba tells Grant

Didier Drogba has told Avram Grant he must play him up front with Nicolas Anelka if Chelsea are to beat Manchester United in Moscow next week. The Blues boss favours the 4-3-3 formation used by Jose Mourinho with Drogba playing up front on his own. But Drogba believes he should be paired with Anelka in Wednesday's Champions League Final.

He said: “I have a lot of admiration and respect for Nicolas. "He came to England very young and had to prove himself in a very demanding League. "I'm a bit disappointed we've not been able to play together all that often since he arrived from Bolton in January. "But given the chance we can do a lot of damage. Hopefully that will be the case against United.” The striker also admitted he cannot bear the thought of ending the season without a trophy for the first time since he moved to Stamford Bridge. He added: “The game, as ever against United, will be tough. But if we do not win, this season will be a huge black mark on my career. "It will be the first time I've not won a single trophy with Chelsea." The 30-year-old, who is expected to quit the club this summer, has also revealed how he came close to walking out on Chelsea at Christmas. He has admitted in a new book that he confronted Chelsea chief Peter Kenyon to confirm that he wanted out following the sacking of Jose Mourinho and would not play in the Blues' crunch Champions League group game in Valencia. He said: “It was a terrible dilemma. But I was ready not to play — I was feeling stubborn.” Drogba sought advice from both his agent and from his former Marseille club president Pape Diouf — and went on to hit the winner in Valencia. Now he hopes to shrug off the knee injury sustained in the final league clash against Bolton to lead the attack against United in Russia.

Cole out to avoid Paris repeatBlues defender wants to be a winner,19528,11668_3570050,00.htmlBy Chris Burton Last updated: 15th May 2008

Ashley Cole is determined to avoid UEFA Champions League heartache for a second time. The Chelsea full-back was part of the Arsenal squad which fell at the final hurdle during a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Barcelona in Paris back in 2006. The England international admits that the pain of missing out again would be hard to take, and is constantly reminded of his first failure as the winning goal two years ago was scored by Juliano Belletti, now a team-mate of Cole at Stamford Bridge. Lucky"Before the game, nobody expected (Arsenal) to win," Cole said. "We had so many young players, we had a man sent off (Jens Lehmann), went 1-0 up, should have been 2-0 up, but then Belletti comes along and scores - which I hear about all the time! "Hopefully, he'll get another one of those 'lucky' goals." RepeatCole insists that the disappointment of that night in Stade de France has made him even more determined to ensure that victory is achieved over Manchester United in Moscow on 21st May. "I don't want to be in the same situation as last time and lose," he said. "I try not to think about (Paris) too much - but now I have got the chance to wipe all that out by getting a winners' medal this year."

Anelka: We Can 'Do The Business'

Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka thinks that the Blues have what it takes to bring the Champions League trophy back to London, but doesn't know if he'll get on the pitch.

Ahead of the Champions League final, Chelsea fringe man Nicolas Anelka has said that the Blues can 'do the business' against Premier League champs Manchester United.
He's under no illusions as to how tough the Moscow showpiece will be, but is unsure of what his role will be, if any, on the night.
"It is going to be difficult,” Anelka told Setanta Sports. “Man United is a big team with big players, but in one game anything is possible.
“We are confident, like I said it will be a difficult game but we can do the business.”
Asked if he expects to start, the Frenchman responded: “I don’t know, you will have to ask the manager, but even if I am on the bench and I get a chance to play I will do my best.”

Duncan Robertson,

Gullit backs Chelsea for final glory
Ruud Gullit has backed Chelsea to bounce back from their Premier League title disappointment and win the Champions League final

Gullit, who was in charge at Stamford Bridge from 1996 to 1998 and led Chelsea to their first major trophy in 27 years when he won the FA Cup in 1997, is confident Avram Grant's side can deliver the prize craved by owner Roman Abramovich.
And the former Dutch international, now in charge of Major League Soccer outfit Los Angeles Galaxy, believes United will not have wanted to face Chelsea in Moscow.
He told Ford's Feel Football debate programme: "I see Chelsea taking revenge, so it is going to be a very interesting Champions League final and I think Chelsea will win.
"I have a feeling that Man United would rather have played Liverpool than Chelsea, that's for sure.
"But is this the right final? Well, I think the best four teams were there in the semis, so that was good, but those games again made it very obvious how much importance is put on the away goals rule.
"It is so vital who plays first away and then at home. Liverpool, in the previous season's matches played away and then at home and they managed to win.
"This time it was the other way around and they didn't - so that says something."
The match marks Chelsea's first appearance in the European Cup final and their first chance to lift the most prestigious trophy in Europe.
Gullit, 49, also admitted that Chelsea boss Grant deserved credit for his part in helping the west London club reach the final and that striker Didier Drogba had a key role to play at the Luzhniki Stadium.
"Jose Mourinho had a hand in this but really it is Grant's hand - he has done what he had to do, to make the best out of it," he added.
"Jose had a good team in his hands and the question was what could Grant do with it? Well, until now he has done very, very well with it.
He continued: "Drogba is very, very important for Chelsea in this match.
"From Manchester United's point of view I think it will be who will play against Drogba, Ferdinand or Vidic, that will be key - and I also think Paul Scholes will be very important from a tactical point of view."

Ten Cate believes Chelsea's winners give them the edge
By Martyn Herman
LONDON, May 15 (Reuters) - Assistant manager Henk ten Cate believes past experience could give Chelsea the edge over Manchester United in next week's Champions League final.
Chelsea's storming late surge in the Premier League just failed to overhaul United but the abrasive Dutchman thinks the London side may hold a slight advantage in a one-off final in the cauldron of Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.
"The teams are even in quality and strength, although there is a big difference in the way they play and the way we play," the 53-year-old told reporters at Chelsea's training ground.
"A final is always on its own but we have about six players in our squad who have won the Champions League at one time and maybe that can be an advantage.
"We also have two or three players that played a final so they know what it is to play a final at that level. But it's going to be close."
Champions League winners now playing for Chelsea include Nicolas Anelka, Claude Makelele, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Andrei Shevchenko and Juliano Belletti, who scored the winner for Barcelona against Arsenal in 2006 when Ten Cate was assistant to Frank Rijkaard at the Nou Camp.
Michael Ballack and Ashley Cole have tasted defeat at the final hurdle with Bayer Leverkusen and Arsenal respectively.
While United may start as favourites they do not boast as quite as many Champions League winners and Ten Cate says the mood in the Chelsea camp is quietly confident before the journey to Russia.
"Manchester have played good football this year but we are getting better and better and we have momentum which will help us," he said. "The spirit in the team is good, losing the league title was not such a big disappointment.
"It's important not to try and over-analyse things. I think it's important that your players walk on to the pitch with a lot of confidence. They have much confidence because the last part of the season we were very strong."
Ten Cate also thinks high stakes in Moscow will not produce the kind of tepid match witnessed in last season's FA Cup final.
"It won't be a typical Premier League game because there are so many foreign influences," he said. "I think it will be entertaining because we both play well away." (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Rex Gowar)

Big security force for Champions League
STEVE GUTTERMAN, Associated Press Writer
May 15, 2008 10:33 AM
MOSCOW (AP) - Russian police will use an unusually large force to provide security at Wednesday night's Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea.

Six thousand police and Interior Troops on foot, in vehicles and on horseback will be on duty in and around Luzhniki Stadium, Interior Ministry spokesman Valery Gribakin said Thursday.
That is 15 to 20 percent more police and servicemen than are normally on hand for major sports events in Moscow, Gribakin said at a news conference that included a video link from London with representatives of fan clubs of the two teams.
Tens of thousands of English fans are expected in Moscow for the match.
Asked for an assurance that police would not treat fans with unnecessary roughness, Gribakin said police will enforce the law but will not go overboard.
''Everything will be done according to the highest international standards,'' he said.
Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Russia would attempt to prevent violence and ''ensure that there are no acts of revenge'' following the stabbing of a Russian fan ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Cup final in Manchester between Zenit St. Petersburg and Glasgow Rangers.
''Yesterday in Manchester I saw what seemed like 100,000 (Rangers) fans, standing on all the central streets, running, drinking. Frankly speaking, I would not like to see this in Moscow in this way,'' Mutko said. ''I want it to be a celebration.''
Gribakin said that Russia, through Interpol, had requested information about violence-prone English fans who might travel to Moscow for the match, and would watch them closely.
''Naturally, special control will be established over these individuals, but not in a way that seriously infringes ... their rights and freedoms,'' he said.
More than 15 British law enforcement officials will be on hand to help organize security, Mutko said.
Russia has waived visa requirements for fans with tickets. They can stay in Russia between May 17-25 provided they show their ticket when entering and leaving the country, Foreign Ministry consular department chief Vyacheslav Pavlovsky said.
English-speaking operators will be on hand to answer emergency calls on match day, and information will be available in English in subway stations, officials said.
While police-escorted buses will be provided to take fans from airports to the stadium and back, Mutko said their use is not mandatory and there would be no unusual restrictions on the movement of the visitors.
''We are a free country,'' he said. ''You can go wherever you want.''

Desailly : Blues Have The Advantage

'Psychologically we have something on top of them because we beat them at our ground,' he said.
'Even though [Cristiano] Ronaldo was not there, [Carlos] Tevez was not there and they had some injury at the start of the game to [Nemanja] Vidic, psychologically Manchester United will say, oh we have lost a game against them and we will have to be careful.
'When you are careful, you don't express yourself. You don't give 100 per cent, you may only give 90 per cent. Then, if Chelsea play well, we can win.
'But as a specialist of football I will tell you that it is going to be very hard,' he cautions, 'because the creativity of Manchester is higher than our own creativity, especially with the likes of Ronaldo.

'But it is football so we don't know really,' he added.
The former Blue also feels reaching the final stage of the competition gives a true portrayal of Chelsea's recent accomplishments.
'We feel as though we have achieved something extra from the past years. We are in the Final, finally. The image that Chelsea had in respect to what we had achieved was not enough.
'Now that we have the potential of winning the Champions League, it is something to close the gap between the image and the achievements.
'Also, even if we don't win, next year we know we went one step further and can work on it again.'

John Terry : Moscow Do Or Die

John Terry said all eyes are now on the Champions League after the penultimate day of the season saw Manchester United secure the title.
The Chelsea captain, who was carried off during yesterday's 1-1 draw with an arm injury, feels Manchester United earned first place in the Barclays Premier League, but was keen to stress the European competition is another story all together.
'We respect them [Manchester United], they have been fantastic. They are top of the league and they deserve to be there, but Moscow is a different story and now we are aiming for that,' explained Terry.
'That is the one that has been missing for me and the players here and the Chelsea fans

'That is the big trophy I want.
'But I am disappointed we have not won the league, obviously.
'We have dropped a few points late on in games, as we did against Bolton, and I think that has cost us over the course of the year.
'But I take nothing away from Manchester United, they have been very good,' added the number 26.
John Mikel Obi reiterated Terry's sentiments as he began to focus all of his attention on May 21 and Moscow.
'It is going to be a do-or-die, we have to win. There can be nothing short of winning the Champions League, we have to win it,' said Mikel.

Yesterday's game did not start as Terry would have wished, clashing with Petr Cech inside the Blues' box meant he led the side for less than 10 minutes before Frank Lampard took up the captain role and medical staff carried off the defender, whose arm was strapped to his side.
But the Blues skipper returned to the stadium before the final whistle to show support for his team and he also addressed the crowd after the game, quelling any fears he might miss Moscow.
'The arm is okay, just a dislocation, but it managed to pop back in before I got to hospital and there is no break so I am happy about that,' clarified the captain.
'Three or four days rest and it is going to be okay. I should be okay for Moscow.

'I followed everything in the dressing room.
'I got back just before the start of the second half so I was flicking between the two games and when the second one went in for Man United, I thought that was it.'
As Terry spoke of watching both games, it seemed clear the team were aware of Manchester United's score at Wigan as the second half commenced, but Mikel did not think it influenced anyone's performance.
'Going to the game we didn't know what was going to happen, but we went into the game with one goal, to win,' said the Nigerian.
'At the end of the first half and second half we knew the results, but I don't think it affected anything.

'We went in there to win, but it didn't come our way and at the end of the day Manchester United won and they won the title.
'Fair play to them and fair play to Chelsea as well, I think we did a very good job.'
All the Blues were keen to congratulate Manchester United for securing the title, and Florent Malouda, who spoke about the northwest side as he completed a lap of appreciation around the pitch, captured the team's feelings well.
'Now everybody will start to think back to where we dropped points and Manchester United would do the same if they were second,' said the Frenchman.
'But I think it was a fantastic season. Congratulations to Manchester United, I think they deserved to win as much as we would have deserved it,' he added.