Chelsea – Bayer Leverkusen – Preview 13 /09/2011 Uefa Champions League
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas
‘I think it’s good to be in this top European competition, a competition that we have been determined to make one of our objectives throughout the seasons and we have not been far from achieving finals,’ he said.
‘We have been in one and want to progress all the way to the end. We have come about in a difficult group with Valencia, Leverkusen and the Belgian champions Genk and it’s a fresh start to another season where the level is extremely high. We have to be up to the challenge.’
‘I think everybody knows the importance of this competition, it is the most difficult to win and if we compare it internationally there are a lot of good teams competing for one trophy.
‘Motivation plays a big part in international football and the World Cup for sure, because the players are involved completely in that sole objective of trying to win it. The Champions League is more difficult because it is an “in between” competition, most of the top clubs compete in the national competitions domestically, so it is a more difficult task because it requires more of the players’ talent and more of the manager’s awareness to rotate a couple of them, keep everybody fresh, to motivate everybody in every single sense of every competition.
‘The amount of top teams you have, it is even more visible this year with the amount of teams of quality and in-depth squads. Man City, Inter Milan will try to regain a trophy they lost, Real Madrid with the squad they have. There are so many in-depth squads that can go all the way in this competition.
‘It is regular that the team who wins the Champions League normally wins their domestic title, so you really have to balance the amount of minutes the players have plus the recovery they should be allowed for the squad to be fresh in both competitions and take it all the way through.
‘For that to happen you need the best available talent you can get, and there are a lot of teams that have these in-depth squads in Europe this season.’
‘We’ll just wait and see. ‘It is very tight because most of them went away and a couple played 180 minutes, and then came back straight away with one-and-a-half days to play the Sunderland game, then two days to play this game.
‘This has to play a part and you will see some changes tomorrow, and then of course we will have to address the rest of the four days after to make as wise a decision as possible for Old Trafford.
‘We have four days to recover for the Old Trafford game. I think what will happen is that the international week passed by and the fact we didn’t have a lot of time to work for the Sunderland game might take its toll on this game because we played Saturday and now we play Tuesday with only two days in between, so let’s make wise decisions and hopefully we can make the right choices to win this game and take us to be up to the level of Sunday’s game as well.’
‘Didier is away, he did some damage to his teeth when he fell to the ground and we decided to give him some days off to come back. Everything is alright with his scan, he will be between Man United, Swansea and Fulham, but hopefully Man United.’
Bayer Leverkusen manager Robin Dutt
“We’re clear about where we stand. The teams won’t stand off each other and everybody will know what it’s all about from the start. But I’ve told my players we’ll get our chances.”
“It’s very important for the club to be back in the Champions League – both in terms of football and image. We’re really looking forward to the game.”
Bayer Leverkusen player Michael Ballack
“The presentation is a very nice gesture and it will be a very emotional moment for me tomorrow.
“There are still a few players there and some who left in the meantime who I am still friends with and whom I am still in touch with, and also a few of the staff.
“When I moved to Chelsea, it was a big, big challenge and experience for me at the time to play with so many good players.
“If I look back, I had a very good time. I feel always welcomed by the fans and the club. They treat me always very well and we had success.
“We missed a few chances, but we had some successes and I will remember this always and it is a big part of my career.”
“It is just a game of football, although we are aware there are some big names on the other side.
“We will have our chances.”