Mission 'impossible' for Di Matteo

Roberto Di Matteo says Juventus aren't a "one-man team" as Chelsea begin an "impossible" mission.

Last Updated: 19/09/12 at 07:35 Post Comment

Roberto Di Matteo: European champion

Roberto Di Matteo: European champion

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Roberto Di Matteo has cautioned against branding Juventus a "one-man team" as Chelsea prepare to kick off their "impossible" defence of the Champions League.

The Blues face a tough Group E opener against the Italian champions, who have spent the last two seasons outside Europe's premier club competition but return on the back of an incredible 42-game unbeaten run in Serie A.

That sequence has coincided with the arrival of veteran playmaker Andrea Pirlo, who also inspired Italy to this summer's European Championship final.

Insisting Juve were not a "one-man team", Di Matteo said: "Obviously, he's a very important player for them and dictates a little bit their game, so we will certainly have to make sure we control him, that's for sure.

"He had a fantastic tournament for Italy. He's a talented player and, since his switch to Juventus, he's shown again he's an extremely great player."

Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel, who will go head to head with Pirlo, added: "Playing against a legend like Pirlo is going to be great.

"But, once we step onto the pitch, it's a different story. He wants to win, I want to win. I respect him as a player and, hopefully, I can learn something from him."

After ending their agonising wait for European Cup glory in astonishing fashion last season, Chelsea are aiming to make more history by becoming the first club to defend it since it was rebranded as the Champions League.

"It's proven, so far, impossible for anyone to win it twice," Di Matteo said.

"We'll try to do the impossible."

Owner Roman Abramovich has spared no expense trying to do that, splashing out £80million this summer on the likes of Eden Hazard and Oscar.

The Russian's spending spree seemed an acknowledgment Chelsea's triumph owed as much to outrageous fortune as anything but Di Matteo bristled at such a suggestion.

"It can't just be that," he said.

"You might need, and you will need, a portion of luck during a competition like this. But every team has it to be able to achieve the final target to win it.

"That's a minor part of it."

Di Matteo did admit last season's success had convinced players to join Chelsea who might otherwise have gone elsewhere.

He said of Hazard and Oscar: "They want to be involved in the biggest club competition in the world so it would have been extremely difficult to attract these players."

Juve found that after being relegated from Serie A six years ago for their part in the Italian match-fixing scandal.

The fallout continues to haunt them to this day, with manager Antonio Conte last month suspended for 10 months for his part in the saga.

The team will therefore be led tonight by coach Massimo Carrera, who said: "I'm really happy to be here.

"We're really proud that we've got the opportunity to face the champions of this competition."

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