| 11.8°C Dublin

Di Matteo lauds Blues as international superpower

ROBERTO Di Matteo has claimed Chelsea are already a global superpower, ahead of tonight's Champions League quarter-final against Benfica.

The Blues have never won Europe's premier club competition, but have been closer than anyone to claiming the trophy without actually doing so since Roman Abramovich became owner.

Chelsea will reach their sixth semi-final in nine seasons if they avoid defeat against Benfica tonight, but with all-conquering Barcelona up next - never mind a potential final against Real Madrid or Bayern Munich - they have never faced a taller order.

Caretaker manager Di Matteo, who has transformed the Blue's fortunes since being placed in charge, claimed their domestic trophy haul during the Abramovich era qualified them to sit at Europe's top table.

"If you look at the last decade of this club, it's become a domestic and international force," he said.

"It's never quite happened internationally, but I don't think that would take any shine off this club."

Midfielder Ramires agreed, saying Chelsea were spoken about in his native Brazil in the same breath as Barca or Real.

Weight

He added: "There may be a weight because they haven't won the Champions League so far, but that doesn't detract from the reality that it's a great club."

Chelsea winning the Champions League looked impossible before Andre Villas-Boas was sacked as manager a month ago.

But Di Matteo has masterminded such a turnaround in fortunes that only a fool would write them off.

The caretaker boss has warned his players that complacency is a "danger" going into tonight's game, with only two clubs having ever lost a Champions League tie after winning the first leg away from home.

But Benfica midfielder Bruno Cesar claimed his side could still qualify.

He added: "We respect Chelsea a great deal, but that won't stop us going out and doing our best. We know they have a lot of quality amongst their players and the team but, then again, so do we."


Privacy