6:45am Wednesday 18th April 2012
© Press Association 2013
Roberto Di Matteo has admitted he faces the biggest test of his fledgling managerial career when Chelsea take on Barcelona.
The Blues have had barely 48 hours to work on caretaker boss Di Matteo's masterplan for overcoming the world and European champions in the Champions League semi-finals, but even with more time the task ahead at Stamford Bridge would be tough.
Di Matteo said: "It's the biggest challenge for any manager to play against the best team in the world, but for every player as well, to be able to compare themselves against one of the top teams in the world."
The fact Chelsea have any sort of chance at all of upsetting the odds is down to their incredible resurgence in the past six weeks under Di Matteo. Before then, their quest to emulate Barcelona's brand of football under Andre Villas-Boas looked doomed to failure, with their reversion to type having yielded spectacular results.
Di Matteo said: "We think, over the last six weeks, we've improved gradually and every win has given this team more belief and self confidence. We have a fantastic squad with some quality players. With the players we have, we play the best way we can to get the best out of these players."
Di Matteo admitted Chelsea needed to be "perfect" for both legs if they were to reach the final and avenge their semi-final defeat of three years ago.
But he denied the burning sense of injustice from the sides' last meeting - which saw the Blues denied a clutch of penalties before Andres Iniesta scored a stoppage-time away goal - would be a motivation, adding: "What happened in the past has gone.
"There's a strong feeling in the team that they want to do well, that they're highly motivated to produce a good performance against Barca."
Midfielder Frank Lampard admitted Chelsea's hopes of victory could lie with keeping 11 men on the field as the Blues have endured three defeats to Barca in the 10 encounters since 2000 after they had someone sent off.
"Discipline is a huge fact at this level," he said, "To play a man down against Barcelona is very tough."
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