Drogba predicts Chelsea backlash

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Didier Drogba has been written off enough times in his career to know how to deal with criticism, and sees tonight's Champions League last-16 first leg clash with Napoli as an opportunity for Chelsea to recover their reputation.

The 33-year-old striker recently returned from Africa Cup of Nations duty as a losing finalist with Ivory Coast after a penalty shoot-out showdown, and is determined to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.

Drogba came off the bench in Saturday's disappointing 1-1 draw with Birmingham City in the FA Cup, and is pushing for a start when the Blues meet the Serie A outfit in southern Italy tonight.

"I think we can feel that nobody believes in us," he revealed in yesterday's pre-match press conference. "Tomorrow we are going to have to show we deserve to be here. Tomorrow we are going to have to make a good result. We have to be clever and we are going to do what the manager asks us to do.

"We are all responsible for the results. Chelsea Football Club is responsible for the results and we all have to play our game. Tomorrow is our chance.

"We've been in a difficult situation in the last few weeks and months, but in the past we always found the strength to play these games and win them, like against Valencia where we won and qualified. Tomorrow we have to do a good game and make a good result, then there is the second leg at Stamford Bridge.

"In football there is always another game to change the bad moment or the difficult moment. Tomorrow is one of those, and in a good atmosphere we have to go out and enjoy the game, play as a team."

Like Chelsea, Napoli have struggled for form domestically this season, and currently lie in sixth position in the league having drawn 10 of their 24 Serie A matches. However, their form has improved of late, and come into tonight's clash off the back of an impressive 3-0 win away at Fiorentina last Friday, and have not conceded a single goal in their last four league outings.

Drogba is adamant that league form will not come into the equation when the two sides return to European action, but insists that Chelsea will not underestimate the threat posed by Napoli.

"If Napoli is here it is because they deserve it. Napoli has improved a lot in the last few years," he acknowledged. "They were a really good team and became stronger and stronger, now they have individuals who can make a difference like [Ezequiel] Lavezzi, [Edinson] Cavani and [Marek] Hamsik and I think they are very dangerous.

"They can score goals and I like the way they are playing, but there are also some parts of their game we can explore and create them some problems.

"It's a fantastic place to play football. When I was young I was always looking at videos of Napoli and Maradona, so I am very happy to be here and we want to play this game and make a good impact."

Didier Drogba
UEFA Champions League

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