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On the eve of his side's decisive UEFA Champions League Group E encounter with Valencia CF, striker Daniel Sturridge insisted that the experience within the Chelsea FC squad would prove the decisive factor.
With Bayer 04 Leverkusen having already secured one of the two qualifying berths, Chelsea go into the meeting knowing that either a victory or a goalless draw will secure their safe passage into the knockout stage and Sturridge believes that the wealth of players well versed in crucial continental club fixtures will tip the balance for the English side.
"I think the players we have in the squad are used to playing in big games," said the 22-year-old striker, who though still only at the outset of his career, has repaid the faith of manager André Villas-Boas with seven goals in 10 Premier League appearances. "They have played in World Cup semi-finals and Champions League finals so playing a game like this doesn't make any difference, they're well prepared and it doesn't change.
"Every game is difficult in the Champions League," added Sturridge, who has featured in three of the Blues' group matches. There are no easy games. The best teams in Europe are playing, but we go into every game trying to win and tomorrow night will be no different. We're focusing on tomorrow's game and we're not thinking about what will happen if we lose."
Chelsea will have been buoyed by their 3-0 victory against Newcastle United FC at the weekend, a match in which Sturridge scored late on and which lifted the London club to fourth place in the English standings, but Valencia are also in a rich vein of form, having won five of their last six Spanish Liga fixtures, to remain four points behind second-placed FC Barcelona.
Unai Emery's charges will be guaranteed a place in the round of 16 should they triumph or achieve a score draw, and their in-form midfielder Tino Costa, whose individual purple patch has yielded two goals in the last three matches, is also confident of victory against a side who have adopted a more open tactical approach this term.
"We have come here with a mentality to go out and win the game," said the 26-year-old. "We are aware that a score draw would be good for us, but we also know that Chelsea will be playing to win, so we want to take advantage of that. It won't be easy, but we are confident. Our approach is really clear: we have come to try and win the game.
"Of course we have seen videos of Chelsea but we are not going to try to change our mentality. We are focused on our own game and that is what is important. All footballers loves to play in games like these, because of the intensity, and everybody in the squad is 100% focused."
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