Claude Makelele insists that Liverpool represent the toughest test yet for Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League.
Although Jose Mourinho has seen his team prevail on three occasions this season, Makelele believes that Liverpool pose more of a threat than Barceona or Bayern Munich whom Chelsea overcame in the previous rounds.
“For me it will be our most difficult match considering the game, the context and a lot of things, it is the match where we will suffer the most,” Makelele told L’Equipe.
“We defeated Liverpool three times this season, but we have suffered three times, it was always very close.
“To get through Chelsea will have to be at its best.
“Liverpool are able to surprise us at any moment, they can play as a European team, they can also play more direct football as an English team.
“They can make the challenges harsher too when needed.
“This team has a very great coach, who had better results than Real Madrid and Barcelona without the same means at Valencia,” Makelele added.
“Liverpool have better results in the Champions League than in the Premier League and it is perhaps not by chance.
“Benitez has experience of European Cups and he could give the needed state of mind to his players.
“He will achieve great things at Liverpool.”
Makelele believes that Chelsea have imrpoved significantly on last season, when they were knocked out of the competition at the same stage by Monaco.
“At Chelsea I found again the same freshness and ambition we had at Real Madrid in 2002,” he added.
“From Roman Abramovich to the coach and the players everyone goes in the same direction, upwards.
“Honestly, when I signed at Chelsea one-and-a-half years ago I never thought the club could have improved so quickly.
“Abramovich wants to win titles and so he has changed a lot of things.
“Didier Deschamps stated how people are talking more about Abramovich’s team than his money and that is a good sign, he is right.
“At Chelsea there are the stars of the future.
“In England I had to make my style known, I needed time to adapt and for my team-mates to adapt to me.
“It is not easy to change English players, they like a quick game and to go forward straight away.
“I asked for a little more time to wait and keep the ball, we do it much better this season but we still have a lot to learn.
“I was better before, but now I am more thoughtful.”