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Chelsea ready to spoil Barcelona's European affair

Published: Tuesday 17 April 2012, 20.45CET
Roberto Di Matteo says his Chelsea FC team must seek perfection on Wednesday as FC Barcelona return to the scene of the start of their UEFA Champions League "love story".
by Jamie Reid
from Stamford Bridge

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Tournament statistics

ChelseaBarcelona

Goals scored25
 
35
Attempts on target82
 
91
Attempts off target86
 
111
Corners52
 
76
Offsides34
 
37
Fouls committed183
 
113
Yellow cards31
 
17
Red cards1
 
0
 
Published: Tuesday 17 April 2012, 20.45CET

Chelsea ready to spoil Barcelona's European affair

Roberto Di Matteo says his Chelsea FC team must seek perfection on Wednesday as FC Barcelona return to the scene of the start of their UEFA Champions League "love story".

Roberto Di Matteo says his improving Chelsea FC side need "two perfect performances" if they are to beat FC Barcelona to a place in the 2012 UEFA Champions League final. A run of just one defeat in 12 games under the interim manager has brought hope, but their visitors are hardly struggling either – Lionel Messi's 40th and 41st Liga goals of the season earned an 11th successive top-flight win at the weekend. Saturday's meeting with Real Madrid CF looms large but Josep Guardiola says Chelsea loom larger – he needed little prompting to talk about the sides' semi-final three seasons ago, when Andrés Iniesta's added-time goal took the Spanish team through.

It's fair to say we need two perfect performances, but the fact we have been performing so well over the past six weeks gives us the belief
Roberto Di Matteo
I want to make sure my players are focused and ready to be part of the enjoyment that comes with playing in these big games
Josep Guardiola

Chelsea
Interim coach Roberto Di Matteo
It's fair to say we need two perfect performances, but the fact we have been performing so well over the past six weeks gives us the belief. The spirit among the squad is very high, very good and I don't think we could have had a better game on Sunday to come into this one. The players are really motivated. We have a fantastic squad with some quality players.

I think Barcelona don't like facing us – past results have shown that. The way we play is maybe a bit difficult for them to play against. We respect each other, but there are going to be two teams on Wednesday and we have shown on many occasions that we are capable of giving them a lot of problems.

It has to be a big team effort to stop [Messi], but if you just think about stopping one guy then they have nine others that can hurt you. So the tactic has to be to limit their threat in general and not just Messi. For any manager, facing a team like Barcelona will probably be the biggest challenge.

Weekend result
Sunday: Tottenham Hotspur FC 1-5 Chelsea (Bale 56; Drogba 43, Mata 49, Ramires 77, Lampard 81, Malouda 90+4) 

Čech; Bosingwa, Luiz (Cahill 59), Terry, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Ramires (Malouda 82), Mata, Kalou; Drogba (Torres 84).

• Chelsea, who have lifted the FA Cup in three of the past five seasons, booked a final against Liverpool FC on 5 May. They have lost only two of their last 32 FA Cup matches – one of those was on penalties.

Team news
Di Matteo confirmed that David Luiz will miss the tie – "a big loss for us" – with a hamstring injury sustained at the weekend. Ryan Bertrand (calf) and Oriol Romeu (illness) are also out, but John Terry will continue to play despite cracking two ribs last time out in the UEFA Champions League.

Barcelona
Coach Josep Guardiola
Chelsea have changed a few things [since 2009] and had a couple of different managers; but the main players are still there and they have the same spirit, the same soul, the same foundation. I admire this group of players because they have regularly managed to qualify for the semi-finals and final of the Champions League and done very well in the league.

I remember that [2009] game and tie being very tough. The first game was difficult because Chelsea defended very well. In the second game they set up for the counterattack and it was also very difficult, especially when we lost a man and had to play the final 30 minutes with ten men. But that was our first year together, and we had a bit of a love story that you have in the early days – we got the winning goal and the rest is history.

We're focused on this; then we will think about Saturday and El Clásico. It is a dream come true to have the chance to play such a great game tomorrow and then another on Saturday, and I want to make sure my players are focused and ready to be part of the enjoyment that comes with playing in these big games.

Chelsea are a very strong team; although they have been inconsistent in the league, they have been very strong in this competition and it will be a hard game to win. They are hard to beat and have been very consistent in at home in the Champions League – they have won five out of five.

Weekend result
Saturday: Levante UD 1-2 Barcelona (Barkero 23pen; Messi 64 72pen)
Valdés; Puyol, Mascherano, Adriano; Thiago, Busquets, Xavi (Cuenca 46), Fàbregas; Alexis Sánchez (Alves 76), Messi, Pedro (Iniesta 54).

• Messi scored in his tenth consecutive league outing to ensure the visitors remained within four points of leaders Real Madrid. Victory in Valencia, where Iniesta made his 400th appearance for Barcelona, was the Blaugrana's 11th in succession in the top flight.

Team news
Gerard Piqué and Daniel Alves (both thigh) are available again, but Seydou Keita has not travelled because of a similar injury. Ibrahim Afellay has recovered from knee ligament damage, while David Villa is still out having broken his left leg in December. Andreu Fontàs (knee) is out for the season.

Match fact
Barcelona's last visit to London was for last May's UEFA Champions League final defeat of Manchester United FC. Their overall record against English clubs is W24 D18 L16, but their away record is less positive: W6 D8 L13.

Last updated: 27/11/12 15.45CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2012/matches/round=2000266/match=2007689/prematch/preview/index.html#di+matteo+targets+perfection

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