Chelsea in a do-or-die situation against Napoli in Champions League
Chelsea’s in-form attacking midfielder Juan Mata knows that Napoli’s defense is anything but impregnable. The 23-year-old Spaniard’s claims can be confirmed by Napoli’s 6-3 win over Cagliari last Friday.
Mata asked his teammates to bare their talons and go for the jugular when they meet the Italian side on Wednesday. Chelsea’s exit from Champions League would mark England’s worst performance in the prestigious European competition in 16 years.
The other three English outfits; Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal have already met their premature exits from the Champions League. Chelsea’s failure to qualify for the quarterfinals would severely affect the image of English Premier League, which had just started boasting about the level of intense competition in their domestic leagues.
Mata understands that it would be a hard job overturning the 3-1 deficit piled Napoli in the first leg, however the task in not unmanageable. Chelsea’s interim manager, Roberto di Matteo has warned his side from counter attacks, therefore the London outfit will need to be extra careful at the back.
The Spain international reckons attacking is just as important as defending. Mata acknowledged Napoli’s impressive attack but asked his teammates to play aggressively as soon as the match started.
“From the first minute, we have to try to create chances to score,” Mata said. “We know that they have very, very good strikers. We have to be careful with them but we are going to press them from the first minute.”
Mata believes that Chelsea’s form at Stamford Bridge will prove to be a good omen for them in the match. Mata explained that leveling the game by scoring two goals was a job that could be accomplished.
“In football, nothing is impossible,” Mata said. “At Stamford Bridge, this Champions League, we had good results in the group - 3-0, 2-0 and 5-0. All the supporters, for sure, will be cheering us. It's a final for us and I think we can do it.”
Meanwhile, the Napoli defender Paolo Cannavaro stated that his team had been forewarned by AC Milan’s complacent form in the second leg of their encounter against Arsenal. Arsenal scored three early goals against the Rossoneri, however they were still one short because of their four goal deficit from the first leg. Hence, it was the San Siro club sailed into quarterfinals when the final whistle was blown.
“The Arsenal match last week opened our eyes,” Cannavaro said. “We are going to come under pressure but if we concentrate and stay calm we can do it. The first-half will be very important.”