Chelsea face Eintracht Frankfurt in a crucial second leg of the Europa League semi final at Stamford Bridge today. While Chelsea are slight favourites to advance given the away goal scored by Pedro in Germany, Paulo Ferreira, former Chelsea player and currently serving as a club ambassador, believes that it should not bring in any sense of complacency to the squad especially after we witnessed two ridiculous comebacks by Liverpool and Tottenham in the Champions League.
No one can be underestimated.
“They’ve been doing really well. They’ve shown that they have a good team, even with some young players. In the round of 16, they beat Inter Milan, so you can see how good of a team they are.
“Even in the first leg of the quarter-final against Benfica, after almost 70 minutes with 10 men, they lost the game [4-2], but they showed character in the way they fought, and managed to take the game into the second leg, and they believed they could win the tie and they did. They’re a dangerous team.
“I think we’re aware of their strengths. So that’s why you have to be careful and respect the opposition because they have good players as well. But, of course, we are Chelsea and we have top players in our side that can make a difference at any time in the match.”
Eden Hazard has been sparingly used in the Europa League so far given the relatively weaker opposition as well as Premier League getting the first preference, but now that Champions League qualification has been achieved, Sarri will play Hazard from the start against Frankfurt in a game that hangs in balance.
Hazard has shown exceptional form in the Premier League and is expected to display similar form in Europa League too.
“Of course, when you have one of the best players in the world in our team in Eden Hazard, that makes things easier. He’s an outstanding player, I was fortunate enough to play with him when he arrived and you could see how talented he was.
“He’s been doing really well again this season and showing why he’s one of the best. So, of course, it’s great for us to have a player like him who can decide a game. But, collectively, we also have a good team. Without that, the best players can’t always make the difference when you don’t have a group that’s good collectively.”
Paulo himself was part of Chelsea’s first Europa League-winning team aand reminisces about that campaign in 2013, when Chelsea dropped down to the Europa League following a group stage exit from the Champions League.
A final is played to be won while the manner of the win becomes secondary. Who better than Ferreira, a true disciple of Jose Mourinho who ingrained the philosophy at Chelsea, to emphasise this point.
“It was quite hard to accept. But credit to the manager because Rafa Benitez then came in, and credit to the players as well because we said to ourselves: this has happened to us. It is what it is. We need to move on, and this is an important competition as well.
“The players did what they had to do. They were top professionals, showed great attitude and we ended up winning the competition because I think we had a fantastic team and all the way until the final we showed we were much better and more consistent.
“We ended up winning the competition, playing against Benfica, a good side. They did very well too and, in my opinion, they were a much better team than us in general, but, in the end, everyone will only remember the team who actually went and earned the win.
“When you play in a final, it is to win, whether you play well or not. You just need to win and lift that trophy because it’s what everyone will remember. We were pleased with that, especially me, because it was my last season at the club and there was nothing better than finishing my career with a significant trophy.”
- Paulo Ferreira; source: Chelsea FC
Chelsea went on to lift the Europa League trophy during Rafa Benitez’ tenure, which turned out to be the last major trophy for Paulo Ferreira before he called it quits.
But we’re pretty sure he would like to see Chelsea lift the trophy once again...