Champions League semi-final, 2nd leg (Forst leg Barcelona 0-0 Chelsea)
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink has warned that there will not be many more opportunities for them to win the competition, as he prepares his side to face Barcelona in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg.
With this their fifth semi-final in the competition in six seasons, and having reached just one final in that time, Hiddink is only too aware that the clock is ticking and the likes of Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and Nicolas Anelka are all now in their thirties.
“It is obvious that [Chelsea] are good and that the players have a lot of desire,” said Hiddink. “They have proved that in previous Champions Leagues but these players don’t have five or six more years to take these chances. This will be one of the last occasions for many players to get to where they want to go.”
If Chelsea thought they had done the hard part in returning from the Camp Nou with a goalless draw, then Barcelona’s 6-2 defeat of Real Madrid at the weekend will have reminded them just how dangerous Josep Guardiola’s team can be on their travels.
Hiddink admits he enjoyed the spectacle and is full of praise for the way the Catalan club retain their attacking philosophy, but insists this will be a different game to the one that silenced the Santiago Bernabéu.
“We must play both with intelligence and emotion.” he added. “Barcelona are the top team in Europe and you have to play with intelligence because the slightest error will be punished. On the other hand you must not play without emotion because that would put a brake on your performance. If you can combine the two you should have a very good game.”
Chelsea believe the absence of both the injured Rafael Marquez and the suspended Carles Puyol from the heart of the visitors’ defence offers them a way to hurt Barça.
Guardiola is likely to switch Eric Abidal into the centre to play alongside Gerard Pique, with Sylvinho coming in at left-back. Barcelona also have serious concerns over Thierry Henry, who injured a knee against Madrid, but Guardiola is confident his team can prevail tonight.
“We have a marvellous chance to get to the final and that’s what me and the squad will be dreaming about,” he said. “I genuinely feel we have a great chance and I will pick a team to go out and win the game.”