Ten Cate: Chelsea's winners have the edge

May 15, 2008

LONDON, May 15 (Reuters) - Assistant manager Henk ten Cate believes past experience could give Chelsea the edge over Manchester United in next week's Champions League final.

Chelsea's storming late surge in the Premier League just failed to overhaul United but the abrasive Dutchman thinks the London side may hold a slight advantage in a one-off final in the cauldron of Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

'The teams are even in quality and strength, although there is a big difference in the way they play and the way we play,' the 53-year-old told reporters at Chelsea's training ground.

'A final is always on its own but we have about six players in our squad who have won the Champions League at one time and maybe that can be an advantage.

'We also have two or three players that played a final so they know what it is to play a final at that level. But it's going to be close.'

Champions League winners now playing for Chelsea include Nicolas Anelka, Claude Makelele, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Andrei Shevchenko and Juliano Belletti, who scored the winner for Barcelona against Arsenal in 2006 when Ten Cate was assistant to Frank Rijkaard at the Nou Camp.

Michael Ballack and Ashley Cole have tasted defeat at the final hurdle with Bayer Leverkusen and Arsenal respectively.

While United may start as favourites they do not boast as quite as many Champions League winners and Ten Cate says the mood in the Chelsea camp is quietly confident before the journey to Russia.

'Manchester have played good football this year but we are getting better and better and we have momentum which will help us,' he said. 'The spirit in the team is good, losing the league title was not such a big disappointment.

'It's important not to try and over-analyse things. I think it's important that your players walk on to the pitch with a lot of confidence. They have much confidence because the last part of the season we were very strong.'

Ten Cate also thinks high stakes in Moscow will not produce the kind of tepid match witnessed in last season's FA Cup final.

'It won't be a typical Premier League game because there are so many foreign influences,' he said. 'I think it will be entertaining because we both play well away.'