Friday, 16 March 2012

Blues welcome Benfica draw

 Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay considers a pairing with Benfica in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League to be a 'good' draw for the club.
The Blues, fresh from their heroic showing against Napoli in the last-16, now know the path they will have to tread if they are to make the final of Europe's premier club competition.
Benfica, who helped to see off Manchester United in the group stage, provide the next obstacle, with the first leg of that tie set to be staged on Portuguese soil.
Gourlay admits Chelsea could not have asked for much more from the draw, but concedes that they cannot afford to get carried away and start thinking about potential challenges to come.
He told Sky Sports: "It's a good one for us. It doesn't matter who you get at this stage, it's going to be a difficult game, but it was important for us to get the away game first and then hopefully build the foundation from there. I think we are pleased.
"I know quite a lot about Benfica from the fact that they topped Manchester United's group. They are a very strong side and we look forward to the upcoming games."

Focus Reigning champions Barcelona could lie in wait at the semi-final stage should Chelsea see off Benfica and the Catalan giants overcome AC Milan, but Gourlay is taking things one step at a time.

He added: "We must give the utmost respect to Benfica, we will worry about that game and focus on that game, along with a lot of other important games we have coming up.
"Then, if we can get through and show the same spirit as we did last Wednesday evening (against Napoli), then we can start thinking beyond that."
Much has been made of the standing Chelsea's senior stars enjoy at Stamford Bridge of late, but Gourlay believes the midweek displays of Frank Lampard, John Terry and Didier Dorgba prove that there is a united front at Stamford Bridge.
He said: "You keep hearing about this player power. There's no secret, we have some big, big players at the football club, but that's for the good of the football club. We need everybody to raise their game, not just our experienced players.
"I think it was a wonderful team performance on Wednesday night and if we show the same character, the same passion and the same effort, then I think we can turn things around this season."
Objectives Roberto Di Matteo was at the helm as Chelsea swept into the last eight of the Champions League, with the Blues' caretaker coach having enjoyed a productive time in the dugout since inheriting the reins from the ousted Andre Villas-Boas.
Gourlay said: "It's not just Robbie, it's everybody that's around him. We all have to play our part.
"He's started well in his three games and everybody knows the objectives between now and the end of the season. It's all about the team and everybody is clear about what we want to achieve and is pushing in the same direction, which is critical at this stage."
Di Matteo is now considered to be a leading candidate to take the job on a permanent basis, while speculation regarding a possible return for Jose Mourinho refuses to go away.
Gourlay is reluctant to be drawn on the managerial situation at present, with Chelsea's focus locked on their efforts to do as well as possible in Europe, the FA Cup and the Premier League.
He said: "All we are focused on at the moment is Roberto Di Matteo and his backroom staff, who are doing a fantastic job, and the players we have now. Let's just see what happens in the summer when the summer comes along."
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