Ballack: Smells like team spirit

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Midfielder Michael Ballack insists Chelsea's fighting spirit and power has returned under the leadership of interim coach Guus Hiddink.

Hiddink replaced sacked Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari last month and has guided Chelsea to five straight wins since agreeing to take charge until the summer.

"I don't want to speak too much about the past," said Ballack. "We had a lot of good games under Luiz Felipe Scolari as well but, in the end, we were struggling a little bit."

Scolari was axed amid speculation he had lost the dressing room and that fitness levels had dropped badly under his regime.

Germany captain Ballack was reluctant to discuss past events ahead of Chelsea's Champions League last-16 tie against Juventus in Turin, but he did admit the team's famous fighting spirit had been re-discovered under the Dutchman.

"We weren't having the success everyone expected so the club made a change," he added. "The players have to accept we have a new coach. It's always difficult to change a coach in the middle of the season, but we've come back to winning in the last five games, which is fantastic.

"He (Hiddink) has had great success in the past. He has a lot of experience and great charisma, and he's shown that in this short time with Chelsea.

"We are back to winning. Even in a few weeks, we came back to one of our biggest strengths which is the power, the fighting spirit of Chelsea. We can still play better, but we're on the way up. Everyone can see this, and that's important."

Ballack added: "It's always about the responsibility and the key players taking on that responsibility. You have a hierarchy in a team, of course.

"If you come to difficult games and situations in a season, it's always about the experienced players who go in front and handle those situations."

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European News
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Michael Ballack

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