Chelsea FC midfielder Michael Essien says that self-belief is essential if the Blues are to realise the dream of reaching their first UEFA Champions League final.
Chelsea FC midfielder Michael Essien says self-belief is the key to realising the Blues' dream of reaching the UEFA Champions League final.
Avram Grant's team face Olympiacos CFP in Athens in the first leg of their first knockout round tie, determined to move one step closer to claiming the one trophy that has eluded them in the last three years. "I definitely think we've got the players to get to the final so there's no worries from that side," Essien said. "I think in football everything is possible – the only thing is you have to believe in yourself. We are in four competitions and we have to win something."
Essien returned to the Chelsea side after a six-week absence on Saturday, playing ten minutes of the FA Cup win against Huddersfield Town AFC after representing Ghana at the African Cup of Nations. Salomon Kalou, Didier Drogba, and John Obi Mikel were also away on international duty, yet Chelsea managed well enough without them. The Londoners are still competing for honours on four fronts – in addition to Tuesday's tie, they meet Tottenham Hotspur FC in the English League Cup final on Sunday, are through to the FA Cup quarter-finals, and sit third in the Premier League.
'Fight for your place'
With the African Cup of Nations contingent back, and John Terry and Frank Lampard also fit again after injury, Grant has a plethora of options at his disposal. "It's great to have everybody back and new players coming in," said Essien, who played alongside January signing Nicolas Anelka for the first time at the weekend. "It's a positive thing to have to fight for your place. It's up to us as players to show we deserve to play."
Chelsea have lost in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in three of the last four seasons and, though they may have the players, Essien believes they still require one more crucial ingredient if 2008 is to be their year – luck. "When you get to the knockout stage, you need a little bit of luck," the 25-year-old said. "We have not necessarily had that luck. This year I think that if we have that luck, we can do something."