Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Roberto Di Matteo insists Chelsea united despite dressing room bust-up

Chelsea's coach Roberto Di Matteo, right, leads a training session ahead of Tuesday's Champions League, group E soccer match between Juventus and Chelsea, in Turin, Italy, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Jonathan Moscrop, Lapresse)
Chelsea's coach Roberto Di Matteo, right, leads a training session ahead of Tuesday's Champions League, group E soccer match between Juventus and Chelsea, in Turin, Italy, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Jonathan Moscrop, Lapresse)

Roberto Di Matteo said that his Chelsea players were still united after defeat to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday and believed, ahead of Tuesday night's crucial game against Juventus, that they would not become the first holders of the Champions League to go out at the group stages the following season.

The Chelsea manager said that he was considering whether to leave Fernando Torres out of the side for the first time this season after the striker's poor run of form has seen him score just once in the last seven matches. Di Matteo said he had a number of "important decisions" to make on the team ahead of the game tonight.



He said: "I always said that we have two strikers in our team. Fernando and Daniel Sturridge. They're both fit and I'll have to see how we're going to go."



There are also doubts about David Luiz's place in the team after another suspect performance against West Brom but, as with Torres, Di Matteo is limited in his scope to make changes in that regard. Nevertheless, he said that for all the problems his club had endured – they have won two in their last seven games – the team were still together.



Di Matteo accepted that there had been strong words exchanged in the away dressing room at the Hawthorns after Saturday's defeat. "Yeah, it's not the first time to be honest," he said. "We demand a lot of ourselves, expect a lot of ourselves. It's not the first time. We were very disappointed and frustrated, so it's good sometimes.



"There was obviously frustration for the result on Saturday. It's normal when things don't go your way. We owe ourselves a good performance and anything can happen. But we've proven many times before that, when it matters, our players can be counted on. Everyone is fully committed for [the match]."



He added: "They need to have belief in themselves, and that's the most important aspect. We work together and, at the moment, we're all in it together and believe we have a good group, a good team, and are pulling together. We believe we can get a positive result."



Ashley Cole travelled as part of the squad to Turin and is available to play for the first time since the defeat to Manchester United on 28 October. Ryan Bertrand may yet come into the midfield with a draw good enough to mean that Chelsea's fate is in their hands come the final game of the group at home to Nordsjaelland. Lose and they will be in deep trouble and will be relying on Juventus not getting at least a draw against Shakhtar Donetsk in the final group game early next month.



A win will see Chelsea through and the onus will be on Juventus, who are third in the group, to make the running. Di Matteo said: "They've got pressure to win this game, and we can get two out of the three results – a win or a draw – and we'll be OK."



The central defender Gary Cahill, who is a certainty to start with John Terry missing through injury, said that the squad were united. "From last year, when he [Di Matteo] took the job, he did tremendously well and achieved such a lot in a short space of time since he took over. We started the campaign really well. We're all behind him and he's definitely the right man. He proved it last year and I'm sure he will prove it this year as well."



Meanwhile, Mark Clattenburg will not referee a Premier League game this weekend for the fourth week running while he awaits the outcome of an FA hearing into his alleged abuse of a Chelsea player.

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