Carlo Ancelotti has admitted there is room for improvement for his Chelsea team, particularly in front of goal, but believes they can reach the latter stages of the Champions League despite failing to impress with a stuttering scoreless draw with FC Copenhagen.
The Premier League club secured a passage into Friday’s quarter-final draw 2-0 on aggregate despite missing too many chances for comfort last night, dampening any sense of satisfaction that this team have progressed further than last season. Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and, for the final 22 minutes, Fernando Torres featured but the visitors’ goalkeeper Johan Wiland still emerged with a clean sheet.
“Obviously we have to improve,” said Ancelotti. “We had so many chances to score – we didn’t have to tonight but we will have to in the future. So we need to be more precise in front of goal, but these are little details. We have a squad that’s strong enough to win it.All the players are fit, the team is strong enough. If we play at 100%, we have a possibility to get to the final stages of the Champions League.”
Ancelotti confirmed that Torres, Florent Malouda and Michael Essien, all on the bench here, will start Sunday’s game against Manchester City as attention turns back to domestic matters. Yossi Benayoun should join Alex in returning to the main squad for training this week to strengthen Chelsea’s options, with the manager unperturbed by the prospect of a potential draw with another English team, or the favourites, Barcelona, in the next stage of this competition.
“We are calm, we are quiet,” he said. “The draw will decide which team we have to play. Barcelona are the most dangerous team in the competition but, if we have to play against them, we will play.”
Ancelotti’s opposite number, Stale Solbakken, believes Chelsea could pose the Catalans problems in the knockout phase. “Barcelona are a little bit stronger at this moment, but Chelsea have that advantage of having that great physique in the team,” he said. “They can out-power Barcelona in certain areas. That can be their advantage. They can compete at the Camp Nou because they are strong, and they have strangled them there before. They have a better chance than Arsenal because of the physique of the team.”
Despite the tame nature of the scoreless draw, Chelsea could at least reflect upon progressing further than last season, when José Mourinho’s Internazionale prevailed here en route to winning the trophy. “A year ago we were crying,” Ancelotti said. “Now we’re happy. We should go and have a fantastic party.”