The 12-hour flight to Malaysia was the first of Chelsea's season and they would hope to end it with a rather shorter one to Munich in May. In the first weeks of his tenure at Stamford Bridge, Andre Villas-Boas has been keen to play down the importance of his role but on one thing he is adamant – sooner rather than later Chelsea will win the Champions League.
"The pressure on Chelsea to win the Champions League is always legitimate," he said on arrival in Kuala Lumpur. "There has been a great consistency about the teams who have reached the last four over the past six or seven years. Manchester United, Barcelona and Chelsea have got regularly into semi-finals and finals. Our club played one magnificent final; we lost but when you get to semi-finals and finals anything can happen. For sure, one day the trophy will arrive at this club."
It was Jose Mourinho's failure to bring the trophy Roman Abramovich most craved as much as the perceived dullness of the football his sides played that cost Villas-Boas's mentor his job in September 2007. All Mourinho's successors, bar Luiz Filipe Scolari have gone close and none was nearer than the much-derided Avram Grant. But for some bizarre refereeing decisions by Tom Henning Ovrebo in the semi-final, Guus Hiddink's Chelsea rather than Pep Guardiola's Barcelona would have faced Manchester United in the final in Rome two years ago.
The challenge domestically will be tougher too, with Manchester United spending big and City's increasing threat. Villas-Boas said: "I cannot control the transfer market. What I understand is that Manchester City will be challenging for the championship. We have to prepare ourselves for that."Reuse content