New Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink, who has replaced Luiz Felipe Scolari until the end of term, admits he has had precious little opportunity to work with a team ahead of their last 16 encounter with Juventus.
Hiddink guided Chelsea to a Premier League victory at Aston Villa last weekend in his first game in charge and is relishing the prospect of being involved in the Champions League again.
“It’s a challenge because when you are into spring and in the Champions League you are among the élite clubs of Europe,” said Hiddink. “It’s very exciting for all of us. It’s special because it’s my first home game and we had a good first match. Being at home everyone can expect a lot from this team by way of energy and passion.
“Every manager wants to have four, five, six weeks to implement things with the team but I have to do it in reduced time,” Hiddink explained.
“We just have to get on with it. We must not give ourselves an excuse because then there might be a tendency to believe we can do a little less. You need to give 100 per cent in the Premier League and the Champions League, and it is not in my mind or in the players’ minds to give any less.”
Hiddink described Ranieri as a “gentleman coach” and praised the Italian’s organisational ability, adding: “A team of stars can expose themselves but he can organise his team in a very disciplined way. That makes his teams difficult to play against.”
Ricardo Carvalho, who has a hamstring injury, is unlikely to be fit, while Joe Cole is a long-term absentee due to a knee problem although Ashley Cole should return at left-back after servinbg a domestic suspension.
Ranieri, back at Stamford Bridge where he spent four years in charge from 2000 to 2004, believes his former employers will respond positively to Hiddink’s arrival.
“They will be determined to carry out his wishes,” he said. “When I saw them against Aston Villa they played in a more direct style but we are prepared for this. Chelsea are a strong team and we respect them but we will have a say in the game as well.”
Alessandro Del Piero and Amauri look likely to fill the striking places for Juventus after they were named on the substitutes’ bench for the 2-0 victory at Palermo on Saturday. Olof Mellberg also seems certain to return at right-back as Ranieri, whose side have lost their last six away matches in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds, looks to bolster his defence.