Forgot Password

 

Register

 

Create your Connect ID

This will allow you to login to all DStv websites & applications




or
Login using
x

Email Reset

 




Loading...
Loading Live Scoring...
*All times CAT (GMT+2)

Football | Champions League

Mata up for Barcelona test



Juan Mata acknowledged that Chelsea were forced to sweat in their victory over Benfica but also conceded that getting to the elite end of the Champions League always entails a little suffering. Now the Premier League side are determined to ensure that their semifinal tie with Barcelona will not be accompanied by excruciating pain.

Only when Raul Meireles rammed in a fearsome drive in added time did Chelsea look to be home and dry in their quarterfinal against opponents reduced to ten from the 40th minute following the dismissal of Maxi Pereira.

By that stage Benfica trailed 2-0 on aggregate but still they kept fighting, reluctant to admit that their ambition of a first European Cup semifinal for 22 years was a forlorn hope. They reduced the arrears through Javi García to engineer a heart-thumping climax but Chelsea had the last word.

"Benfica pushed us really close, as we knew they would," Juan Mata told Uefa.com. "They are a very strong team and we suffered after their goal went in in the 85th minute. But in the Champions League, if you want to reach the semifinals, you know you have to suffer. We are in the semifinals and it is a gift for us to be there. Barcelona have most of the best players in the world but we are Chelsea and we will fight."

Mata, the Uefa.com Player Rater winner who previously has not ventured past the quarterfinal stage of a European competition – two seasons ago his Valencia team were knocked out of the Uefa Europa League by fellow countrymen Club Atletico Madrid – said it was always special for him to face another Spanish team.

"Earlier this season I played against Valencia, my team for years, and now we're playing Barcelona. Are they beatable? In football nothing is impossible. Of course, it will be difficult. They can play just as well away as they can at home but we shall see. We are a side with more confidence now. That is the reason for our recent results."

As one of two defensive midfielders in the system now favoured by interim manager Roberto Di Matteo, John Obi Mikel knows he will be in for a busy night, both at Stamford Bridge on 18 April and at Camp Nou six days later.

"We are coming up against the best player in the world, the greatest player ever," said Mikel in salute to the genius of Lionel Messi. "We are playing the best team in the world right now but going into the match as underdogs might just play into our hands. We have played them a few times and we know what we have to do. Hopefully our physicality will see us through."

Shop

Gerrard: My Autobiography
Steven Gerrard is a hero to millions, not only as the inspirational captain of Liverpool FC, but as a key member of the England team.
R152.00
Rafa: My Story
Revelatory memoir from the greatest sportsman in the world today.
R182.00
FIFA 14
Xbox 360
R549.00
Mitre Ultimatch Soccer Ball - White
A high quality football, offering high performance at both training and during football matches.
R252.00


Comments

More expert analysis and opinion from Sport24
The opinions expressed by Sport24 experts and bloggers are theirs alone, and do not necessarily represent those of SuperSport

Live Video Streaming

Barclays Premier League - Matchday 3: Newcastle v Crystal Palace
Tue, 02 Sep @ 05:00
Wed, 03 Sep @ 16:00

Sports Talk



Carol Radull
Where are Kenya's strikers?
I was watching the English Premier League match between Everton and Chelsea on Saturday night and...

Calvin Emeka Onwuka
Spurs will challenge for the title
It was in my room in Rustenburg, during the last Afcon, that I noticed the style that Mauricio...

John Dykes
United in condemnation
The British football press showed tremendous solidarity this week when they all leaped on the same...

Neil Tovey
Borrowing from best practice
The late Irish scribe and poet Oscar Wilde once famously opined that “youth is wasted on the...

Sunday Oliseh
Man U need more than an 'Angel'
Just two games into the English Premier League and Manchester United are five points (synonymous to...

Arjun Vidyarthi
Good signs for the Reds despite loss
A brace from Stevan Jovetic and a Sergio Aguero stunner ensured that Manchester City took all three...