BENFICA vs CHELSEA
CHELSEA boss Roberto di Matteo last night hit back at Benfica claims his team are crippled with anxiety over their misfiring strikeforce as the two teams prepare to collide in the Champions League this evening.
Di Matteo responded to the barb from the Portuguese outfit’s star midfielder Nicolas Gaitan, who singled out goal-shy Fernando Torres and the ageing Didier Drogba, ahead of tonight’s quarter-final first leg.
“My response is that we scored 13 goals in the last six games,” said the Italian, who has won four in six since taking over from Andre Villas-Boas.
“As long as somebody in my team scores, I don’t care. We are scoring goals and creating chances. We’re averaging more than two a game in the matches I’ve had in charge.”
Chelsea’s resurgence has slowed in the last week, with defeat at Manchester City and a draw at home to Tottenham increasing the danger they will finish outside the Premier League’s top four for the first time since 2002. It caused midfielder Frank Lampard to concede that the Blues “are not as good as we used to be”, but Di Matteo insists they still have enough to progress to a semi-final against Barcelona or AC Milan.
“The numbers say it, so there’s no point denying it’s been a difficult season,” he added. “But I still think this Chelsea team is a very good team.”
KNOW YOUR ENEMY | BENFICA
Like Chelsea, drew 0-0 at the weekend, at Olhanense, leaving them behind league leaders Porto on goal difference
Gave Manchester United a couple of scares in the Champions League group stages, leading them both home and away before drawing both games and topping Group C as United crashed out
Striker Oscar Cardozo has 23 in total this season, including five in Europe, while sought-after midfielder Nicolas Gaitan’s tally of five assists is the equal best in the competition