Tuesday 20 February 2018

Chelsea boost ahead of final as Cahill and Luiz passed fit to face Bayern

Ian Winrow

ROBERTO Di Matteo has been handed a significant lift ahead of Saturday's Champions League final after Gary Cahill and David Luiz emerged unscathed after returning to training with the rest of the first-team squad yesterday.

The fitness of both centre-backs has dominated Di Matteo's planning for the meeting with Bayern Munich as John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic are ruled out of the game through suspension.

Both have been sidelined with hamstring injuries -- Luiz since the FA Cup semi-final victory over Tottenham and Cahill since the Champions League semi-final second leg in Barcelona -- and their failure to play any role in Sunday's Premier League game with Blackburn raised doubts over whether they would make the trip to the Allianz Arena.

But the pair reported no ill effects after yesterday's session and declared themselves fit to play, leaving Florent Malouda as Di Matteo's only major concern.

"This was my first session with the boys and it was good to get out here," said Cahill. "Now I've got three more sessions so I can kick on from here. Thankfully it's healed quickly. We've spent every day working on it and the work's paid off. Hopefully I can get the training under my belt this week and be ready."


Malouda is a greater concern. The France midfielder was withdrawn in the first half against Blackburn with a hamstring problem and Di Matteo admitted: "We still have to assess Flo and it'll be touch and go for him to be available."

The combination of injuries and suspensions -- Raul Meireles and Ramires will also miss out -- means Di Matteo's squad will be stretched and the interim first-team coach acknowledged the Chelsea bench might carry an unfamiliar look for a game of such stature.

"That's the worst-case scenario," he said when asked what would happen if the injured players suffered setbacks. "We will take some reserve-team players on to the bench, into the squad, and just figure out what to do. I've been trying different options in training for different solutions, just in case."

Di Matteo, who appears increasingly likely to step down irrespective of Saturday's result, warned his players their experience following defeat against Manchester United in the Moscow 2008 final means this may be their last opportunity for some time to land the one trophy to have eluded the club.

"To reach a Champions League final is very, very difficult," he said. "Sometimes you think: 'Ah yes, it'll happen again.' But it's not that easy." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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