'Chelsea can beat anyone'

Blues manager Di Matteo says beating Barcelona has side bristling with belief ahead of Munich march

Ben Rumsby

ROBERTO Di Matteo has issued a rallying cry to his Chelsea players ahead of next Saturday's Champions League final, declaring: "If you can beat Barcelona, you can beat anybody."

The Blues were today just eight days away from their biggest game since the 2008 final as caretaker manager Di Matteo plotted one last extraordinary triumph.

Bayern Munich are odds-on favourites to lift the European Cup at their own Allianz Arena.

But Di Matteo insisted last night Chelsea had nothing to fear, having already dumped out what some had hailed as the greatest club side of all time.

"If you manage to go through two legs against Barcelona, I think then you can beat anybody in European football," Di Matteo said at the club's Player of the Year awards.

"They're supposed to be the best team and I think we have a fantastic group of players with tremendous quality and belief.

"The confidence is very high. The spirit is very high."

That Chelsea stand on the brink of their greatest triumph is all the more remarkable considering they were in disarray before Di Matteo was placed in charge just over two months ago.

The Italian added: "We've enjoyed a good eight, nine weeks. The players have been fantastic with me.

"They've performed at the highest level possible and we've found ourselves in a great position now to win the biggest trophy in European football."

Those thoughts were echoed by midfielder Frank Lampard, who is looking to become the first man to captain Chelsea to Champions League glory.


"From the spirit we showed in Barcelona, we can do anything, and it's about making sure we can do it on the day," said the 33-year-old, whose days at Stamford Bridge looked to have been numbered under sacked manager Andre Villas-Boas.

"We've had a tough season. I've had tough moments.

"But we're sitting here on the verge of maybe the greatest season ever."

Lampard will lead Chelsea out in Munich with skipper John Terry suspended, along with three more first-team regulars - Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires and Raul Meireles.

Terry said: "For myself and the guys who are going to be suspended, obviously we're bitterly disappointed.

"But we'll be there to support the players as we always are. We've got a fantastic group of players.

"Big nights need big players and we've certainly got loads of them."

Chelsea must win the Champions League after being guaranteed finishing sixth in the Premier League ahead of Sunday's final game of the season against Blackburn.

That match could once again see Juan Mata rested after the winger sat out a match under Di Matteo for the first time in Tuesday's 4-1 thrashing at Liverpool.

Mata was last night named Chelsea Player of the Year after a stellar maiden season.

He said: "It's an amazing season for me. We won the FA Cup in my first year. We have the chance to win the Champions League - history for this club.

"So I'll never forget this season."