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Ferrer relishes Camp Nou contest

Published: Wednesday 23 February 2005, 13.33CET
Former FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC defender Albert Ferrer says Barça will severely test José Mourinho's side.
Published: Wednesday 23 February 2005, 13.33CET

Ferrer relishes Camp Nou contest

Former FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC defender Albert Ferrer says Barça will severely test José Mourinho's side.

By Graham Hunter in Barcelona

Of the players to have worn the jersey of both FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC only one, Albert Ferrer, has lifted the 'cup with the big ears'.

Eventual prize
It is that historic trophy, the prize for the winners of the UEFA Champions League, which has inspired the frenzy surrounding the Catalan club's meeting with Chelsea in the first knockout round of this season's competition, starting tonight at the Camp Nou.

Wembley win
Ferrer won the European Champion Clubs' Cup under the guidance of Johan Cruyff at Wembley stadium in 1992, when Barcelona beat UC Sampdoria, before moving to Chelsea in 1998 to claim further domestic honours.

Ferrer prediction
He will be in the 98,000 crowd at the Camp Nou when his two former employers do battle and, although his loyalty is slightly split, his heart and his head tell him that the first instalment will be won by the home side.

Pressing game
"Chelsea are a very fine team and they have mastered the art of pressing the opposition when Jose Mourinho's players do not have the ball," explained the now retired right-back. "But what everyone must realise is that no team can come to the Camp Nou and press for the entire game.

Speedy forwards
"The playing surface is very wide and it is enormously tiring to play that kind of closing down game - particularly when Barcelona play such an attacking formation and when they have such speedy forwards.

'Play high up the pitch'
"If any team came to the Camp Nou to defend for 90 minutes then they would lose. It's as simple as that. The key for both teams is to play as high up the pitch as possible. If Barcelona can impose themselves on Chelsea and push them back towards their own goal then they should have enough to win the game."

Terry versus Eto'o
One interesting match-up brings the inspirational and talented Chelsea central defender John Terry up against the explosive pace of African Footballer of the Year Samuel Eto'o. Ferrer agrees there is a difference in the two players' pace - but is intrigued as to whether Terry's reading of the game and sheer self-belief can even up the contest.

Fascinating battle
"Eto'o is quicker than John, that is for sure," said the 34-year-old. "But centre-halves are often not the quickest and their ability to cope with a difficult striker should come from their reading of the play and their anticipation. John has both those qualities so it will be a fascinating battle."

Dangerous precedent
In season 1999/00 the two sides met at this stadium only for Ferrer's Chelsea to receive a crushing 5-1 extra-time defeat which eliminated them from the Champions League quarter-finals. Ferrer missed the game through injury but believes that encounter holds few clues to tonight's tie.

'Should have been braver'
"I remember that Chelsea came defending a 3-1 lead and should have been braver in our approach to what result we wanted," he said. "I do not believe that result or any of the psychological influences of such a defeat have any relevance for the current Chelsea players.

Two excellent teams
"But it does show what kind of approach you must take to the Camp Nou. If you are timid and defensive then things can go badly wrong. But this Chelsea comes with the advantage of taking the tie back to Stamford Bridge, where they will have the advantage of a very tight playing surface, which we did not have five years ago. It will be a very close and extremely fascinating contest between two excellent teams."

Last updated: 23/02/05 22.06CET

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