Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata is hoping the momentum generated from Saturday’s hard-fought win over Stoke City can be taken into tomorrow night’s Champions League last 16, second leg clash against Napoli.
The Blues have a mountain to climb against their Serie ‘A’ opponents, trailing 3-1 from the first leg after Mata had given his side the lead. Goals from Ezequiel Lavezzi (2) and Edinson Cavani quickly wiped out the advantage.
And things have drastically changed in west London since the defeat, with manager Andre Villas-Boas handed his marching orders. Assistant boss Roberto Di Matteo has taken charge on a temporary basis, and has overseen wins over Birmingham City in the FA Cup and the Potters in the league.
But Wednesday’s clash with the Azzurri will be the former midfielder’s toughest test since taking charge, and Mata is hoping both he and his teammates can treat the match like a final and get a big win for the Italian chief.
“Wednesday is like a final and we have to win at least 2-0, I think we can do it, we are confident after Saturday and we will try to give 100 per cent to qualify,” said Mata on the official Chelsea website.
“In football nothing is impossible and at Stamford Bridge we have had good results in the Champions League, so I think we can do it. All the supporters will be cheering us, it's a final for us, and we can do it.
“From the first minute we have to try to create chances to score. We know they have very good strikers and we have to be careful with them, but we will press from the first minute.”
One of the club’s top performers this season, Mata joined the Blues from Valencia in the summer transfer window, and has quickly settled into life in the capital.
Having been signed by Villas-Boas following his arrival from Porto, the Spaniard admits times have been tough in recent weeks, but the win over Stoke could be a pivotal moment in the season.
“It wasn't easy because as you know we had a big change but I think the team is still believing and working very well, and these two wins bring a lot of confidence,” he concluded.