Mario Melchiot says Chelsea FC will go for broke to overwhelm AS Monaco FC in London.
By Adrian Clarke
Claudio Ranieri's side face an uphill struggle to reach the final in Gelsenkirchen after an awful second-half display at the Stade Louis II, when they let in two late goals to a Monaco side reduced to ten men following the dismissal of midfield player Akis Zikos.
But Chelsea's Dutch international defender Melchiot has told uefa.com that he is confident the Premiership side will come out with all guns blazing in front of a sell-out 40,000 crowd at Stamford Bridge. "The Chelsea fans can be our 12th man in the second leg," he said. "We need them to get right behind us and if they do that, it will inspire us to score the goals we require. Never have we needed our fans' support more than we do now."
Hernán Crespo's first-half strike in Monaco has given Chelsea a precious away goal which means they could go through with a 2-0 win. But, with the visitors boasting an attack that features the likes of Fernando Morientes, the eight-goal leading scorer in the Champions League, and Ludovic Giuly, keeping a clean sheet presents a formidable challenge.
Melchiot agrees the London side are the underdogs. "We have to admit it won't be easy to keep a clean sheet against Monaco because they are the sort of team that are always likely to grab a goal," he said "The defeat has put us in a bad position in terms of reaching the final now, but it is far from impossible for us to go through.
"Immediately after the first leg I was feeling like we had definitely blown the opportunity, but my emotions have calmed down now and I am seeing things more clearly. I now really believe we can get the result we need - 2-0 is definitely achievable."
Despite the absence of their suspended French duo Marcel Desailly and Claude Makelele, the London side have been lifted by last weekend's confidence-boosting 4-0 Premiership victory against Southampton FC. And Melchiot believes a similar attacking philosophy will be needed if Chelsea are to battle it out with FC Porto in the final on 26 May.
"For us to make the Champions League final we need to produce a great performance at Stamford Bridge," said Melchiot. "There is no choice for us now - we have to go forward and take some risks. That is the price we have to pay for losing in France, but the belief is there that we can do it."
They may have made the task hard for themselves, but one thing is clear - Melchiot and Chelsea are hell-bent on fighting their way to the final. "I've waited so long for this chance, so I won't give up on the dream until it's over," said the 27-year-old. "Chelsea can still make the final. I truly believe that."
Mario Melchiot's personal website is at www.icons.com