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Friday, March 16, 2012
Cech up for UCL challenge

ESPNsoccernet staff

Petr Cech believes Chelsea must use their midweek triumph against Napoli to turn their season into a success as they await the draw of the Champions League quarter-finals.

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Cech and his team-mates produced a remarkable 5-4 aggregate win over their Serie A opponents in the round of 16 on Wednesday evening. But the 29-year-old fears the achievement will count for little if they do not perform against the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan or Bayern Munich, who have also qualified for the last eight.

"In the next two weeks we have the chance to reach the FA Cup semi-finals, third place in the Premier League and take a big step in the Champions League quarter-finals," Cech told The Sun newspaper.

"One week ago, everything looked really bad for Chelsea but football is so crazy that it has all changed around. We won against Birmingham and Stoke and then came back from 3-1 down to beat Napoli and, suddenly, it all looks completely different for us.

"On Sunday, we play Leicester in the FA Cup, then we have two huge Premier League games against Manchester City and Tottenham before the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals. We are still on track to do what we did in 2009 when we changed the manager in mid-season but, in two weeks' time, this season could look completely different again - in a good way or a bad one."

Cech insists the Blues must regain top form at home if they are to challenge for silverware this campaign as the team looks to revive their season under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas.

"We're not playing well and when that happens you can't intimidate opponents," he said. "When you lose so many games at home, then every team that comes to Stamford Bridge believes they can get something out of the game.

"Not so long ago we had an unbeaten home record of four or five years and our opponents felt like they were already 2-0 down before they had even arrived.

"The expectation at this club is always to win trophies. Then you can attract new players and have a better atmosphere. This season, we are still on track to win two trophies but it is far from over and it would be wrong to judge us on just one good win against Napoli."

Fellow veteran Frank Lampard says Chelsea will go into the next round of the Champions League with no fear of Europe's biggest clubs after the confidence boost attained after the victory over Napoli.

"We have to believe and we do believe that we can beat anyone," said Lampard. "It's obvious that Barcelona are probably the strongest team along with Real Madrid.

"But we must carry on because we do have ability in this team, particularly at Stamford Bridge on a night like that. No-one's going to want to come and play here when we've got that about us."




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