Didier Drogba has rubbished suggestions that Chelsea will be thinking about the culmination of their 2008-09 Champions League season when they host defending champions FC Barcelona at Stamford Bridge tomorrow evening.
Drogba was among the many Chelsea players protesting against the controversial officating of Tom Henning Ovrebo, who ignored at least two clear penalty claims from the Blues when they were leading the Catalans 1-0 in the semifinals almost three years ago.
Ovrebo’s decisions proved costly for the West Londoners as Andres Iniesta’s late stoppage time strike made it 1-1 on the night, as well as the aggregate, to propel the Spanish giants into the final on away goals.
Barca ended up defeating Manchester United 2-0 to lift the trophy and although they were deserving winners in the final, the Blues were unfortunate to be left with a bitter taste.
Many have unsurprisingly labeled this year’s rematch between the two sides as a revenge mission for Chelsea but veteran striker Drogba is refusing to get carried away with that talk.
“It is not about 2009 because I think about the other times we played Barcelona and it is not only bad memories, we have some good memories as well,” Drogba defiantly told the Blues’ official website.
The 34-year old added: “So it is 50-50, even if Barcelona are set to be the best team in the world and they have the best player in the world. It is two games, anything can happen. 2009 is the past now and the only thing I want is to play on Wednesday with my team mates and make a good result.
“Barcelona are the winners of last year’s competition and nobody expected us to be in the semi-final so we have to show that we deserve to be there.”
While Drogba’s comments were positive, Barca’s Dani Alves launched a shocking – and rather baseless – attack on Chelsea’s potential to play confidently against the Spanish champions.
Ahead of the massive semifinal clash, Alves was quoted: “People say Chelsea could have won but for the referee, but that is not our problem. We do not control the referees. We are there to play football, to compete and to try to reach the final. What can we do about the referee?
“Chelsea did not reach the final because of fear. The team that has got a man more, is playing at home and winning should have attacked us more. But of course, if you don’t have that [attacking] concept of football that Barcelona have, you stay back and you get knocked out.”
Alves then took arrogance to a whole new level by suggesting that it is in Chelsea’s nature to come up short against a top European opposition such as Barca.
“You have to go forward. Stay back: losers. Go forward: winners. I think Chelsea lacked the courage to take a step forward and attack us. They paid for it,” the Brazilian asserted.
The debate goes on about 2009 but as Drogba argued, history books could be altered significantly by next Wednesday if the Blues manage to knock the over-confident holders out of Europe’s biggest club competition.