x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Chelsea motivated by Champions League challenge of Barcelona

Roberto Di Matteo is plotting how to stop and then overcome Pep Guardiola's side after beating Benfica in the quarter-final.

Chelsea's Raul Meireles celebrates scoring against Benfica.
Chelsea's Raul Meireles celebrates scoring against Benfica.

Roberto Di Matteo is looking forward to pitting his wits against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals.

The Premier League club secured progress to the last four by seeing off Portuguese side Benfica 3-1 on aggregate.

"It will be exciting to play two games against probably one of the best teams in the world," Di Matteo, the interim Chelsea manager, said.

"We will find a strategy that will suit our players and our team to face Barcelona. They obviously have some individual players that are a big threat and very dangerous, but we also have to play our game and play to our strengths."

Chelsea boasted a 1-0 lead heading into the quarter-final second leg at Stamford Bridge and looked to be cruising through after Frank Lampard's first-half penalty was followed up by Maxi Pereira's 40th-minute dismissal for two bookable offences.

However, Benfica attacked after the break and forced a nervy ending when Javi Garcia nodded home five minutes from time, but Raul Meireles netted in stoppage time to settle proceedings.

One blot on Chelsea's evening was an injury to captain John Terry. The 31 year old looked superb in central defence but had to be replaced in the 59th minute by Gary Cahill.

"He got a knock on his rib and that's why we had to take him off," Di Matteo said. "We'll assess him [today] and see how he is. We hope that he is going to be okay."

While Chelsea move onto bigger and better things, the visitors were left to rue what could have been. Benfica manager Jorge Jesus felt his side deserved to progress and was quick to dismiss Chelsea's prospects of overcoming Barca in the next round.

"I am really proud of my players," he said. "Over the two games we proved we were much the better team. I can't understand how we're out.

"What hurts me is that we've knocked out better teams than this Chelsea. That's what leaves me with a certain sense of revolt. I may be wrong but I believe Chelsea have no chance against Barcelona."


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