By Simon Peach, Press Association Sport
Manager Carlo Ancelotti believes Chelsea have it within them to win the Champions League this season despite being held to a goalless draw by relative minnows Copenhagen.
The Blues went into the clash with a two-goal advantage from their round of 16 first-leg victory in Denmark, although they fluffed a plethora of opportunities to settle the tie at Stamford Bridge.
Lackadaisical finishing and poor decision making meant Chelsea failed to net with any of their 25 opportunities, although their first-leg success secured progression into the final eight.
Ancelotti admitted after the match that the Blues need to improve if they are to go on and win the competition, but he was quick to take positives from the clash.
“I think the performance was good,” he said. “We didn’t want to take a risk for this game and prepared well. We had good defensive control of the game, we worked hard, and we had a lot of opportunities to score.
“We obviously need to be more precise in front of goal, but these are little details. The general performance was good.
“Obviously we have to improve. We had so many chances to score, and we’ll have to score. Obviously.
“But I see the team fresh and it’s a good moment for us. We can improve, really, in the next games of the Champions League.
“I think 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.”
This time last season Chelsea were knocked out at the last 16 stage by eventual winners Inter Milan and Ancelotti admitted the feeling in the camp is “totally different” to a year ago.
The Blues enter the Champions League draw alongside Barclays Premier League rivals Manchester United and Tottenham, as well as Europe’s in-form team Barcelona.
However, Ancelotti insists talking about potential opponents does not interest him.
Speaking on facing a fellow English side, he said: “No no, that doesn’t matter. We are calm. We are quiet. The draw will decide which team we have to play.”
On Barcelona, he added: “Now I don’t want to say anything about this. Barcelona are the most dangerous team, but if we have to play against them, we will play.”
Having led his troops into clashes with Barcelona and Chelsea in this year’s Champions League, Copenhagen manager Stale Solbakken is in a unique position to judge both teams’ qualities.
And while admitting Barca have the skill to triumph, the Norwegian boss believes the Blues could progress in any clash between the pair.
“Barcelona, I think, are a little bit stronger at this moment,” he said. “But Chelsea have that advantage of having that great physique in the team.
“They can out-power Barcelona in certain areas. That can be their advantage.
“They can compete at Camp Nou because they are strong, and they have strangled them here before, and were unlucky with Iniesta’s goal.
“If they can handle them in Camp Nou… they have a better chance than Arsenal because of the physique of the team.”
Despite coming undone against Chelsea, Solbakken reminisced about a Champions League run that would have surprised even the most optimistic Copenhagen fan.
Having defeated Rosenborg in the qualifying round, the Danish champions progressed from a group that included Rubin Kazan, Panathinaikos and Barcelona – with whom they secured a famous 1-1 draw.
Solbakken believes the run and Wednesday’s goalless draw at Stamford Bridge will go down as some of the greatest moments in the Copenhagen’s history and preferred to focus on the club’s successes rather than their exit from the competition
“They were the best team over the two games,” he said. ” They were okay today as well, but I’m very proud of what we’ve done in this campaign. We’ve played eight games and seven were really good.
“We were not good at Parken against Chelsea as we struggled after the winter break but the other seven games have been brilliant for us.
“It has been a great experience but we just have to admit that we lost to a better team.”