Barca hold no fear for Chelsea
No one may be giving them a chance, but that doesn’t seem to bother Chelsea with the Blues in bullish mood ahead of Wednesday's crunch clash against Barcelona.
The pair are set to do battle at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final, the hosts knowing they must get a win to take to the Nou Camp in six days’ time. Even then, most would still fancy Barca to brush aside the west London outfit and make it to the final.
But that’s not something that worries Ashley Cole. When asked which team would qualify for the showpiece, the Chelsea left-back replied: “Chelsea, of course. We know what Barcelona are about. We’re confident and feel we’re good enough to progress.
“We’re a tough team, we never give up. We fight for every ball, we’re strong in tackles and hopefully that will be in the back of their minds and we can take advantage of that. With teams like Barca, we think we know how to stop them.
“Is it going to happen on the day? You never know. If people like Lionel Messi don’t turn up we have a great chance.”
With Chelsea having their worst season for many years, some may well conclude that Cole’s comments are merely brave bluster. The Blues made it to the FA Cup final by beating Tottenham on Sunday, but that only masks a poor performance in the league with Roberto Di Matteo’s boys back in sixth. In Europe their form hasn’t been much better and they were fortunate to get past Benfica in the last round.
Meanwhile, the defending Champions League champions, although lying second in La Liga, have once again proved themselves the team to beat in Europe, playing a brand of winning football others can only dream of.
However, that’s clearly gone unnoticed in west London with Didier Drogba going some way to showing Cole’s confidence cannot be dismissed as bravado.
“It is 50-50,” the Chelsea striker said. “Even if Barcelona are set to be the best team in the world and they have the best player in the world [in Messi].
“It is two games, anything can happen.”
In spite of Chelsea’s faulty form, the visitors, winners against the Blues at the same stage three years ago, are refusing to take anything for granted, regardless of having in their ranks tonight, according to Blues star Frank Lampard at least, the greatest player in history in Messi.
“Chelsea were strong in 2009 and this year they will be very strong, dangerous and focused,” Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta said.
“And playing at their ground, the atmosphere will multiply that.”