There are a couple Nemanja Matić interviews going around today. One, from FourFourTwo, is a rerun from last May. If you missed it, you should read it. The second, from the Daily Mail (and possibly others since Matić was speaking in conjuction with a video game launch), is fresh and fascinating.
Well, fascinating is maybe a bit strong. But the part about being undefeated is quote topical.
"We lost three titles in two weeks. It was very hard to take. These things happen only one season in a thousand years. We played well the whole season and were unbeaten for so long. It shows you can never be certain of anything."
"If we want to win the league we must continue like this until the end. Even if we're top and unbeaten with two games to go we must not believe we've won it. We must not stop until the title is ours. We must fight and at Chelsea I believe we are ready for that."
I had actually forgotten that Matić was part of the 2012-13 Benfica side that rather comically managed to come up second best* in every competition. This included a domestic league campaign where Benfica had gone undefeated for the first 29 matches. Now that my memory's been jogged, I do remember taking great delight in Jorge Jesus's despair at the last minute goal and final whistle in the 2-1 loss against eventual champions FC Porto, Benfica's only defeat in the league. Sorry, Nemanja! Chelsea of course also played a crucial part just a few days later, with Matić's countryman and friend Branislav Ivanović scoring the near last-minute winner in the Europa League final. Sorry, again, Nemanja!
* in the business, this is also known as "pulling a Bayer Leverkusen"
Fortunately, Matić has been able to put those disappointments behind him and become one of the best in the world in his position. With the wisdom gained in 2013, he knows exactly what Chelsea must do (or mustn't do, as it may be the case) in handling a 20-match (and counting) unbeaten streak to start this season.
"I want to win every game. We are only interested in winning. It will be difficult to go through the whole season - we have many games to play against very good teams - but anything is possible. We know our qualities and what we can do. Maybe we can lose. Maybe we can remain unbeaten."
"Let's see. It depends only on us. If we win every game we are going to be champions. We know that is going to be hard but we are ready to fight."
Be sure to check out the rest of the interview to read about what Matić thinks of comparisons with Makélélé and the tough love he gets from his father, which in turn he dishes out to his little brother Uroš.