Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Chelsea kids will sparkle, says Carlo

Chelsea will delve into their famed youth academy today in order to bolster a Champions League squad that has been ravaged by injury and suspensions.

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and full-back Jose Bosingwa are banned while midfielders Deco, Joe Cole and Yuri Zhirkov, plus defenders Paulo Ferreira and Alex, are all missing through injury.

It means that coach Carlo Ancelotti will add defenders Sam Hutchinson and Jeffrey Bruma to his squad along with Italian under-19 international striker Fabio Borini for the clash against Porto at Stamford Bridge.

But the lack of first team players has not dimmed Ancelotti's desire to lead Chelsea to the final of the competition for the second time in their history.

Chelsea lost out in the final to Manchester United on penalties two seasons ago and last season they were cruelly sent crashing out in the semi-finals by Barcelona's last-minute away goal at Stamford Bridge.

But Ancelotti believes, that with a bit of luck, they have the squad to reach the final once more and revealed he was brought to the club by owner Roman Abramovich because of his ability to build winning continental teams.

“It is not that the club asked me to win the Champions League, they asked me to win the Champions League, the Premier League, the FA Cup and the League Cup,” said Ancelotti. “For Chelsea it is important to be in these competitions and to have the possibility to win.

“Chelsea haven't won it, but they have come very close. Two years ago, they were one penalty away from winning it.

“They have been in the semi-final five times in six years. It is not easy to do this. To win the Champions League is very important. It is not a question of being unlucky or lucky, you have to do the best in this competition because it is a very important competition.

“We have to do the best and take it game by game. It is not an easy group, this, because there are important teams. Porto is an important team with great experience and also Atletico Madrid is a very good team. The first objective is to arrive at the final not to win. In our mind we want to do these things. We want to arrive at the final of Champions League. We have had to take three players from the academy. We are happy to do this because we have very good talent in the academy.

“This will be a very good opportunity for them to enter in the squad — Sam Hutchinson, Jeffrey Bruma, and Fabio Borini.

“I think we have the possibility to play well without Didier.”

Drogba has been banned for four games by UEFA following his foul-mouthed outburst at the end of the semi-final defeat to Barcelona.

Chelsea v Porto - key battles

Nicolas Anelka v Bruno Alves

ALVES has the ability in the air to cope with Anelka's presence but he may not have the wit to prevent the France star’s trickery from undoing the Porto defence. Alves will keep his defence well organised. Anelka will be Chelsea's main strike threat in the absence of the suspended Drogba.

Frank Lampard v Raul Meireles

Chelsea will again rely on the England ace to provide assists and goals during their campaign. Lampard's tenacity and guile will be too much for Meireles and that could be a real plus for Chelsea. Meirele has a range of passes that can hurt Chelsea and they should watch for his long-range shooting.

John Terry v Hulk

Porto striker Hulk was voted one of the rising stars in the European game last season after some superb performances in the Champions League. His strength, speed, acceleration and shooting ability will give Terry a difficult evening at Stamford Bridge. Terry will need to rely on his experience.

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