Roberto Di Matteo looks to Chelsea’s old guard to deliver the goods against Barcelona
Chelsea fly to Barcelona at lunchtime on Monday smarting at the accusation that they constitute some sort of Saga tour. Where some critics see “old”, Chelsea see “experienced”.
The years of footballing wisdom accumulated by John Terry, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard will be vital at the House of Hurt that is the Nou Camp on Tuesday.
Chelsea’s interim first-team coach, Roberto Di Matteo, smiled wryly when mention was made that “no one talks of Scholes and Giggs being past it”. Ryan Giggs, 38, and Paul Scholes, 37, have helped steer Manchester United to the top of the Premier League.
“Thank you very much,’’ said Di Matteo. “We’re in the final of the FA Cup and the semi-final of the Champions League yet we seem to be ‘the worst team in England’. That’s the way it feels sometimes.’’
His Arsenal counterpart, Arsene Wenger, believes Chelsea have a real chance of protecting that 1-0 first-leg lead. “It is far from impossible,” said Wenger, whose team lost there last year. “The Barcelona we saw the other night was not the Barcelona of last year. (Lionel) Messi looks a bit tired.
“He still is dangerous, even tired. They managed to block a few shots from him on Wednesday but usually he has such a short back-lift it is difficult to do that.