Chelsea stars Fernando Torres and Frank Lampard are confident that their side has the tools needed to solve the problems that will be posed by holders FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League semifinal clash between the two teams.
Torres, who lined up against Barca as an Atletico Madrid player in the early stages of his career, realizes that the Catalans have advanced to a whole new level under Pep Guardiola in recent years but remains confident in his ability to attack comfortably against the La Liga outfit.
“I have a good record against Barcelona, they are the type of team you have to defend well against and play on the counter-attack, which is the type of game I enjoy,” Torres told Chelsea’s official website.
The Spaniard added: “When I was at Atletico Madrid, we won at the Camp Nou two or three times, but now it’s different because Chelsea are a top team as well but I certainly don’t feel as if I have anything to prove against Spanish opposition.”
Lampard, who is also aware of the strength of the Spanish champions, is determined to use Barca’s unmatched strength as an impetus for his teammates to deliver their hardest performance.
“I quite like the tag of being underdogs. It is refreshing if you believe in yourselves, and we do believe in ourselves. The last thing we want to do is take too much fear into this game,” Lampard stated when asked to speak about his approach to this evening’s first leg at Stamford Bridge.
The England international added: “You can talk yourself into fear by talking up Barcelona all the time and we have to believe in ourselves. We have to respect the opposition but we have to play our game.
“Our style of play has been very effective lately. We are mixing an organised, disciplined game with some very good, attacking football. On our day and the way we are playing at the moment, we can be a match for anyone.”
Moving on to the specifics of the Blues’ game plan, Lampard clearly warned that an excessively defensive mindset against Barca’s attack can backfire terribly on the Blues.
The 33-year old elaborated: “It is imperative to play a pressing game against them, but it is a question of which areas of the pitch to do it, which is down to us organising the game with the staff.
“There is no way you can be passive, we have to try to close down space and we will have our game plan of how to attack them, but the main thing is a sense of urgency in our defending. You have to stay very focused and press because once you give them time they can hurt you.
“Discipline is also a huge factor because playing a man down against Barcelona is very difficult. There is a fine line because we have to be disciplined but we have to tackle and we have to close space.
“But we have a pretty good discipline in our team and a pretty good record against Barcelona and we have to take confidence from that. We have to use the strengths we have as a team and keeping 11 players on the pitch is absolutely crucial.”
If it was not obvious enough, Lamps also urged his teammates to make no mistakes in marking the seemingly unstoppable Lionel Messi.
“Every time you turn the TV on, you seen Messi scoring two goals standard at the moment, and it is good that he hasn’t scored against us (yet). We pride ourselves in being a strong team and when we played Barcelona before we have caused them difficulties, but when you talk about Messi, statistics go out the window the way he is playing,” Lampard asserted.
Lastly, the veteran playmaker also spoke candidly about his massive desire to win a first Champions League winners medal as retirement approaches in the next few years.
“Every year, you get a bit older and you realise that semi-finals won’t be there forever. It makes you more determined and excited about the game coming up. It is a huge occasion to play a semi-final and we are playing against the top team in world football recently. The players and the club remain as determined as ever to win the Champions League,” he concluded.