"We are going to have to show we deserve to be here," said Didier Drogba as he urged his Chelsea FC colleagues to stand up and be counted in their first-leg tie at SSC Napoli.
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A run of one win in six matches suggests that not all is well with Chelsea FC right now and Didier Drogba, the club's long-serving striker, admits that they go into Tuesday night's UEFA Champions League match at SSC Napoli needing to prove a point.
"I think we can feel that nobody believes in us," Drogba said on the eve of the round of 16 first leg at the Stadio San Paolo. "Tomorrow we are going to have to show we deserve to be here. Tomorrow we are going to have to get a good result. We have to be clever and we are going to do what the manager asks us to do."
There were boos for André Villas-Boas's men after their 1-1 home draw with second-tier Birmingham City FC in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday – the fourth draw in six for a side who have slipped to fifth in the Premier League. Drogba, who appeared as a second-half substitute for his first appearance since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, said that everybody at the club must take responsibility for their plight, and work together to spark an improvement.
"We are all responsible for the results," said the 33-year-old, now in his eighth season with the Londoners. "Chelsea Football Club is responsible for the results and we all have to play our game. Tomorrow is our chance.
We've been in a difficult situation in the last few weeks and months, but in the past we always found the strength to play these games and win them, like against Valencia where we won and qualified."
It was in the aforementioned final game of the group phase against Valencia CF in December that Chelsea earned the 3-0 win that took them into the last 16. Drogba scored twice to take his goals' tally in the competition for Chelsea to 36 in 69 appearances, but as with his team, he has had an underwhelming campaign so far in the Premier League by his standards with three goals scored. "
In football there is always another game to change the bad moment or the difficult moment," he added. "Tomorrow is one of those, and in a good atmosphere we have to go out and enjoy the game, play as a team."
Drogba recalled watching videos of Diego Maradona's Napoli as a youngster and is looking forward to stepping out at "a fantastic place to play football". But he knows a tough test awaits. "Napoli have improved a lot in the last few years. They were a really good team and became stronger and stronger, now they have individuals who can make a difference like [Ezequiel] Lavezzi, [Edinson] Cavani and [Marek] Hamšík and they are very dangerous. They can score goals and I like the way they are playing, but there are also some parts of their game we can explore and create them some problems." Should Chelsea do that, their own problems might just start to fade.