Absent for Chelsea FC's superb first-leg victory at Liverpool FC, fit-again centre-back Ricardo Carvalho is hoping to fill suspended captain John Terry's boots in Tuesday's decider and help the Blues into the semi-finals.
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Absent for Chelsea FC's superb first-leg victory at Liverpool FC, defender Ricardo Carvalho is hoping to fill suspended captain John Terry's boots in Tuesday's decider and help last season's runners-up confirm their place in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
The London club took a firm foothold in their quarter-final at Anfield, running out 3-1 winners despite falling behind to an early Fernando Torres goal. Their 30-year-old centre-back was restricted to the bench following his recovery from an ankle injury, but he is now determined to play his part and finish off the five-time European champions on home soil. "We got a great result away from home and now it's important to carry on that performance," Carvalho said. "We have to go out there to win, to play and to try and score."
The Portuguese international knows one goal could kill off any hopes Liverpool harbour of scaling an already daunting obstacle. In the four UEFA Champions League games at Stamford Bridge between the sides in recent seasons, the Merseyside club have scored just twice – one fewer than they need to have any chance of progression. However, if there was any possibility of complacency in the Chelsea camp, Saturday's 4-3 league win over Bolton Wanderers FC – where Guus Hiddink's side came perilously close to surrendering a four-goal lead – has dispelled it.
"We played well in the first half but stopped playing in the second and made some mistakes in defence," was Carvalho's take on the nervous victory. "We have to learn from those mistakes – it's good to have a game soon after. We conceded too many goals and normally we are strong at home." Carvalho played alongside Terry at the weekend and is confident the Blues can cope without their talisman as they return to European action. "We will miss JT, but he's suspended and we can't change the rules," he said. "Our back four has to be compact and play as normal. The important thing is to get through."
Such was the impressive nature of Chelsea's first-leg performance that many pundits have already started to think about a semi-final date with FC Barcelona, 4-0 leaders against FC Bayern München at the halfway stage of their tie. However, previous experience has warned Carvalho against thinking too far ahead: "In the Champions League, you have to play both legs at a really high level, and to make it to the final you need a bit of luck as well. This competition means a lot to us. We have had some problems this season but I think we've become stronger and we're now in good shape."