Fresh from breaking the west London club's goalscoring record, Frank Lampard is itching for team success as Chelsea FC target a second European trophy in two seasons.
Chelsea became the first UEFA Champions League winners to drop out of the competition at the group stage this term, but they are now striving to pick up the only major continental title that has eluded them – the UEFA Europa League. "You get close to the final and you want to be here," said the 34-year-old midfielder. "It's a huge European final. We want to win it to say we've won it – simple as that."
Now Chelsea are here, they hope to bring their experience of finals to bear. "I have been lucky enough to play a few finals and they are very particular games," added Lampard. "Small things that happen, focus and concentration, dictate the game." While Lampard admits Chelsea were "probably underdogs" in Munich last May, they are many observers' pick this time and, perhaps with last year's climax in mind, goalkeeper Petr Čech said: "I think in history you can see so many times being considered favourites doesn't matter – it's all about what happens on the pitch."
Chelsea certainly carry confidence into the final, with Saturday's victory at Aston Villa FC all but securing a top four spot in England. Lampard has extra reason to be upbeat, after scoring both goals in the 2-1 win to break Bobby Tambling's record for the Blues and take his tally to 203. "I think it helps a bit in being confident. The other day was a special day for me. The final's different and I'll have to prepare for that but it's nice to bring it into the day."
His feats have brought admirers in the opposition camp as well, with forward Ola John saying: "He has played there for a long time and can change the game with his goals and assists. He is a top player but the whole team is good." Chelsea overcame Benfica en route to last season's success, and Čech expects a tough battle from John and Co. "They are a step ahead of the team that we played last season," the Czech Republic No1 said. "They have very good, talented players, have speed going forward and have a good balance."
Chelsea have had their ups and downs this campaign, yet both Čech and Lampard have been around long enough to know the result is all that matters. "What's important is what you get at the end of a season," the Englishman added, while Čech said simply: "Any season when you reach a European final and you win it, the season must be considered a success. We would like to make history by winning the game tomorrow."
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.