Michael Ballack has said that Chelsea’s stars have to reach the Champions League semi-finals to make up for their self-inflicted misery in the FA and League Cups.
Chelsea face Fenerbahce tonight after trailing 2-1 from last week’s away game in Istanbul. Although Chelsea are only 3 points behind Manchester United with the champions still to travel to Stamford Bridge in the league, the season has been a difficult one for new manager Avram Grant who has been barracked by fans and press for his lack of prior credentials and his un-Mourinhoness.
Michael Ballack (on the Carling Cup and FA Cup defeats):
“We lost because we didn’t play well in those two games. We went to a final and we shouldn’t lose a final. It was our fault. It was not that Tottenham played fantastic football. And even against Barnsley, it was our fault.
We saw it in the first leg against Fenerbahce. It was our fault. When we play our best football we can win every competition. We didn’t do that in two competitions this year. Everybody knows that and it is our motivation.
We have a strong team with a lot of experience. We know the situation when you go to a quarter-final and have to win. We have showed this many times in the past. I have confidence we can win the game but in the first game after 45 minutes we thought it would be an easy win, then the game changes.
It shouldn’t happen again. We will prepare well to make sure it doesn’t.
We play at home and we have a fantastic record at home. But they have nothing to lose and that makes it very dangerous.””
While Ballack is focusing on the performance of his teammates, the axe is more likely to fall on the manager’s head rather than the players. But Grant has handled the pressure (and abuse) well so far, and even without Mourinho at the helm Chelsea are the side more likely to progress to the Champions League semifinals.