Champions League

Di Matteo salutes old guard

2012-04-19 12:15
Roberto Di Matteo (File)

London - Roberto Di Matteo said Chelsea's old guard had silenced their critics after leading the club to a 1-0 upset of holders Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday.

GALLERY: Chelsea v Barcelona

The elder statesman of the Chelsea line-up - 34-year-old Didier Drogba - scored the winner as the Premier League side withstood a furious Barcelona onslaught to hang on for a memorable first-leg victory.

Chelsea's win came despite being outplayed by long periods, with Barcelona enjoying 72 percent possession throughout the match to their opponents' 28.

The Spaniards also had 24 attempts on goal while Chelsea's only shot on target came in the shape of Drogba's winner.

Nevertheless the win was a triumph for Drogba, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and Petr Cech as Barcelona were sent crashing to their first European defeat this season.

"In the past a lot of the public opinion has been that these boys are over the line and too old to play two games at this level," Di Matteo told reporters, referring to Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final win over Tottenham on Sunday.

"It wasn't just (Drogba) - we had other players on the pitch that you regard as old guard that have played two games in such a short period of time. I think they gave their answer on the pitch tonight."

Di Matteo had surprised many pundits by electing to start with Drogba in attack ahead of 50 million man Fernando Torres.

However the interim Chelsea manager admitted he had chosen Drogba to start after being impressed by his goalscoring contribution to Sunday's 5-1 drubbing of Spurs at Wembley.

"I felt I had to be fair looking back at the game on Sunday with the way we wanted to play. For today's game he was the right man to play," Di Matteo said.

While praising the veterans of Chelsea's line-up, Di Matteo was at pains to pay tribute to a "tremendous" collective effort.

"I think that the balance has to be good within the team. It's not just the defenders defending -- it's the whole team," Di Matteo said.

"So I think you need to be able to close down the space as much as possible and limit their threat as much as possible. But ultimately with the quality of the individuals they have they will create some problems.

"But it wasn't just our defenders it was a collective defensive performance.

"We're delighted with the performance of the team and the result we got today. We've won all our Champions League games at home this season and we've faced some tough opponents.

"I think tonight was one of the biggest challenges we've had for many years."

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola meanwhile said the defeat had left Chelsea as favourites to advance to next month's final in Munich.

"They are favourites," Guardiola said. "They have a good result but at least we have the challenge to play 90 minutes. And in that time we have the opportunity to create chances. But 1-0 is a very good result for them."

Di Matteo brushed off Guardiola's assessment of the tie however.

"I don't think it makes us favourites," he said. "It's 50-50 for both teams to go through to the final.

"You know what to expect when you go to the Camp Nou - it's going to be very, very difficult. We still have to believe that we might be able to score a goal there. It's going to be a tough game, it's a tough game for anyone going there.

"We'll have to be at our best again. We're very pleased but it's only half-time and nothing has been decided. We've another game to play yet."

Guardiola meanwhile dismissed suggestions that Barcelona had been robbed of victory given their overwhelming dominance of possession and shots on goal.

"They won, that's football," Guardiola said. "It's not a question of fairness. They scored, and we didn't. Congratulations Chelsea.

"If football matches were awarded to teams who had the most average possession of the ball we would win every game. But the most difficult thing is getting the ball into the net."



Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk
Most Read


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

A simple Bok plan will floor USA
Eben, Lood ‘brutal identikits’
6 reasons Boks won’t botch it
Fiji far too strong for Uruguay
20 October 2015
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Roma, BayArena 20:45
BATE Borisov v Barcelona, Borisov Arena 20:45
Arsenal v FC Bayern Munchen, Emirates Stadium 20:45
FC Porto v Maccabi Tel Aviv, Estadio do Dragao 20:45
Dynamo Kyiv v Chelsea, Kiev Olympic Stadium 20:45
Dinamo Zagreb v Olympiakos, Maksimir 20:45
Valencia CF v KAA Gent, Mestalla 20:45
Zenit St Petersburg v Lyon, Petrovski Stadium 20:45
21 October 2015
CSKA Moscow v Manchester United, Arena Khimki 20:45
Manchester City v Sevilla, Etihad Stadium 20:45
Juventus v Borussia Monchengladbach, Juventus Stadium 20:45
Paris Saint-Germain v Real Madrid, Parc des Princes 20:45
Malmo FF v Shakhtar Donetsk, Swedbank Stadion 20:45
Galatasaray v Benfica, Turk Telekom Arena 20:45
Atletico de Madrid v FC Astana, Vicente Calderon 20:45
VfL Wolfsburg v PSV, Volkswagen Arena 20:45
03 November 2015
FC Astana v Atletico de Madrid, Astana Arena 17:00
Shakhtar Donetsk v Malmo FF, Arena Lviv 21:45
Borussia Monchengladbach v Juventus, Borussia-Park 21:45
Benfica v Galatasaray, Estadio da Luz 21:45
Manchester United v CSKA Moscow, Old Trafford 21:45
PSV v VfL Wolfsburg, Philips Stadion 21:45
Sevilla v Manchester City, Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain, Santiago Bernabeu 21:45
04 November 2015
FC Bayern Munchen v Arsenal, Allianz Arena 21:45
Maccabi Tel Aviv v FC Porto, Bloomfield Stadium 21:45
Barcelona v BATE Borisov, Camp Nou 21:45
Olympiakos v Dinamo Zagreb, Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium 21:45
KAA Gent v Valencia CF, Ghelamco Arena 21:45
Roma v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Olimpico 21:45
Lyon v Zenit St Petersburg, Stade de Gerland 21:45
Chelsea v Dynamo Kyiv, Stamford Bridge 21:45
24 November 2015
BATE Borisov v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Borisov Arena 19:00
Zenit St Petersburg v Valencia CF, Petrovski Stadium 19:00
FC Bayern Munchen v Olympiakos, Allianz Arena 21:45
Maccabi Tel Aviv v Chelsea, Bloomfield Stadium 21:45
Barcelona v Roma, Camp Nou 21:45
Arsenal v Dinamo Zagreb, Emirates Stadium 21:45
FC Porto v Dynamo Kyiv, Estadio do Dragao 21:45
Lyon v KAA Gent, Stade de Gerland 21:45
25 November 2015
FC Astana v Benfica, Astana Arena 17:00
CSKA Moscow v VfL Wolfsburg, Arena Khimki 19:00
Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid, Arena Lviv 21:45
Borussia Monchengladbach v Sevilla, Borussia-Park 21:45
Juventus v Manchester City, Juventus Stadium 21:45
Manchester United v PSV, Old Trafford 21:45
Malmo FF v Paris Saint-Germain, Swedbank Stadion 21:45
Atletico de Madrid v Galatasaray, Vicente Calderon 21:45
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS

Who will be the 2015/16 Champions League top scorer?

/World Cup
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


Take a photographical trip down memory lane and remind yourself of how the Springboks fared in their five previous Rugby World Cup campaigns. In addition, pick your all-time Springbok Rugby World Cup Dream Team and you could win R3 000!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.