Football

Benfica v Chelsea: Champions League Preview

Di Matteo in confident mood. (©GettyImages)
Di Matteo in confident mood. (©GettyImages).

Benfica v Chelsea; Estadio da Luz; Champions League; Tuesday 27 March 2012, 19:45 KO

Team News

After a central defensive pairing of Gary Cahill and John Terry impressed in Chelsea's 0-0 draw with Tottenham at the weekend, Roberto Di Matteo must decide whether or not to recall David Luiz to the starting line-up against his former club.

Luiz has started each of the Blues' European encounters this season, and will be disappointed if he misses out. However, another former Benfica player, Ramires, is likely to start in a midfield three alongside Frank Lampard and Michael Essien.

Didier Drogba started at Stamford Bridge on Saturday ahead of Fernando Torres, but it remains to be seen who will be favoured at Estadio da Luz.

Meanwhile, Benfica will be boosted by the return of influential playmaker Pablo Aimar, while in defence, Brazilian duo Luisao and Jardel are set to line-up alongside each other in the absence of Ezequiel Garay.


Di Matteo: Confidence key to Chelsea progression



Chelsea may be the last English side left in the Champions League this season, but that has done little to dispel their growing number of critics.

Inconsistent form in the Premier League is what ultimately cost Andre Villas-Boas his job at Stamford Bridge, but the Blues have pulled together under the temporary charge of Roberto Di Matteo, and are looking to end the 2011-12 campaign on a high.

The interim manager has backed his Chelsea players to prove they still have the necessary quality to be successful, starting with tonight's crucial quarter-final first leg clash against Benfica at Estadio da Luz.

"We have had a difficult season, the numbers say that so it is no point denying it," Di Matteo told the club's official website. "But we have a lot of quality, many good players and I still think this Chelsea team is a very good team.

"Chelsea is used to being in the top two or top three but we are in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and the semi-finals of the FA Cup, and I have a lot of faith in this team.

"They have shown they can play with high intensity and I am positive. Because of the conversations I have had with them I know my players are very positive as well."

After their impressive turnaround against Napoli in the previous round, confidence is high in the Chelsea camp, and Di Matteo is hopeful that will stand the team in good stead ahead of the encounter.

"We have scored 13 goals in the last six games and we have had three clean sheets so the team is in good shape and looks defensively solid," he continued. "I believe this team has all the ability to play a very good game tomorrow night and show all their qualities.

"Benfica play with great intensity, with good pressure and are a very good technical side. I have seen them many times against big European clubs and they have some quality players. They have a good team, they wouldn't be in the quarter-finals otherwise."

Topics:
Football
Chelsea
UEFA Champions League

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