LONDON - After a dark, depressing winter
Chelsea have emerged into the spring energised, focused and
fully fit for their annual assault on the knockout stage of the
After a series of poor results, culminating in their exit
from the FA Cup after losing at home on penalties to Everton,
Chelsea rediscovered their form with a 2-0 away win over FC
Copenhagen, who they face on Wednesday in the second leg of
their Champions League last-16 tie.
In their next game they beat Manchester United 2-1 in the
league and followed up with a 3-1 away win over Blackpool.
Their cup exit meant they had last weekend off and they head
into Wednesday's game with barely an injury to speak of.
"The game in Copenhagen was an important one, we played well
and took a lot of confidence and were able to repeat that
against Manchester United so it was a turning point," Ancelotti
told reporters on Tuesday.
"We have used this time well to prepare the team; to stay
focused, to improve our condition and our confidence and
everything was okay in training.
"It's fantastic for us to have all the players fit and I
want to maintain a good motivation for everyone because we need
everyone in the last games of the Premier League and the
"Our confidence now after the victories is really better and
we want to maintain this and if it's possible, improve."
Chelsea play Manchester City in the league at the weekend
and though they trail leaders United by nine points they have a
game in hand and still have to play Sir Alex Ferguson's side.
However, the Champions League looks a more realistic target,
especially with the advantage in their Copenhagen tie firmly in
their favour after Nicolas Anelka's double in the first leg.
Chelsea are in the last 16 for the eighth successive season
and bidding for make the semi-finals for the sixth time in that
period. In the last three years they have lost to the eventual
winners so, assuming they progress on Wednesday, they will have
a keen eye on Friday's quarter-final draw.
The Londoners were knocked out by Barcelona two years ago,
albeit after outplaying them in their semi-final, but Ancelotti
said he did not fear drawing the Spanish favourites again should
his side progress.
"I hope we're in the draw on Friday. It is very important to
reach the quarter-finals, though we have to pay a lot of
attention because Copenhagen are a good team, with good
organisation," he said.
"Barcelona are the best team in Europe but in the Champions
League you can use your strength and power and different
skills," he said. "Every game is a different story."
With David Luiz ineligible Branislav Ivanovic is likely to
start at centre back alongside John Terry. Alex, who has not
played since November because of a knee injury, is fit but
Ancelotti said he would not be involved until Sunday's game
against City on Sunday.
Yossi Benayoun, out since September with an Achilles injury,
will also return to training later this week, though his return
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