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Morientes plots Chelsea upset

Published: Tuesday 20 April 2004, 11.58CET
Fernando Morientes is promising a hostile reception for Chelsea FC in tonight's semi-final. features

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Published: Tuesday 20 April 2004, 11.58CET

Morientes plots Chelsea upset

Fernando Morientes is promising a hostile reception for Chelsea FC in tonight's semi-final.
By Alex Eeles

Having scored twice to oust Real Madrid CF from the UEFA Champions League, AS Monaco FC striker Fernando Morientes is now gunning for Chelsea FC.

No mercy
Claudio Ranieri's side travel to the principality for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final tonight, with the Spanish international - on loan from Madrid - adamant that the big-spending Premiership team can expect no favours from their hosts.

Supreme confidence
"After knocking out Real Madrid we weren't bothered if we played Arsenal or Chelsea in the last four," the 28-year-old told "The confidence we now have after knocking out such a great side is amazing and we have real belief."

Not invulnerable
Morientes has been impressed by Chelsea but believes they are far from invulnerable. "Their main strength has to be their defence," he said. "They are so big and strong but I'm sure we will find a way to score against them. Every defence has holes and the secret is to find those weaknesses and exploit them. That will be my job."

Familiar face
Having come up against Ranieri's sides during the coach's time with Club Atlético de Madrid and Valencia CF, Morientes knows his style well and admitted he had been impressed with the Italian's achievements at Chelsea. "I think Claudio Ranieri is building a great team at Chelsea," he said.

Ranieri pressure
"He has done so much hard work in a difficult league and he's also done that with the pressure of the English media saying every day that there will be a new trainer at Chelsea next year," he added. "He knows his job so well and it isn't just about signing players. He manages with discipline, just as he did at Atlético and Valencia."

Money men
After seeing his position at Real undermined by the arrival of new players at the Santiago Bernabéu, Morientes could be forgiven for resenting the game's richer clubs. Surprisingly, though, the centre-forward insists Chelsea's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich has been good for the game.

Blank cheque
"I think Abramovich is good for football because the game needs people like him to finance the salaries and transfer fees," he said. "It is also, of course, good for Chelsea that he is there and I'm sure he won't be spending all his money for nothing. I'm sure he will win trophies."

Fine line
However, he also has a warning for the free-spending Russian. "Having the most expensive players doesn't guarantee you titles," said Morientes. "It has been proved at Real Madrid that there is a fine line between success and failure in football because it's such an unpredictable game."

Lampard praise
One Chelsea player Morientes believes has offered value for money is inspirational midfield player Frank Lampard. "Against Arsenal [FC] he was outstanding," he said. "He was in every area of the pitch, working in defence, attacking, moving to the wings, opening the game up with his passing. Lampard is an extremely dangerous player and we will have to keep a close eye on him."

'We will make the final'
Yet despite his respect for the opposition, Morientes remains bullish about Monaco's chances of reaching their first Champions League final. "We proved against Real Madrid that we can beat any team and I'm sure we will find a way of beating Chelsea too," he concluded. "If we work hard, concentrate hard for 180 minutes and take the chances that come our way, we will make the final."

Last updated: 21/04/04 11.43CET

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