Ancelotti: 'We have the best strikers in Europe. Fernando's display was really good'


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The Independent Football

Carlo Ancelotti said last night that he believes he has the best strikers in Europe to choose from after he left Didier Drogba on the bench for his team's emphatic 2-0 win over Copenhagen in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie.

Nicolas Anelka scored both goals and it now looks likely he and Fernando Torres will start in attack when Chelsea attempt to salvage their prospects in the Premier League title race against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge next Tuesday. Ancelotti said: "Yes, I think [we have the best strikers in Europe]. I have an opportunity to choose the players.

"We want to maintain their fitness, but rotation could do them good with the Premier League and the Champions League. They are accepting my decisions without problems, and this is important. To have them available at the moment, it's important at this time of year.

"As for Torres, I think, his performance was really good. There's a little bit of disappointment because he could have scored. But it doesn't matter. His movement with Anelka was so good.

"We have fantastic strikers. I have to make a decision about the games, to put them in or not. Didier played for two hours against Everton [on Saturday]. Torres and Anelka were fresh and, together, they played well. [Frank] Lampard also had good combination with Fernando."

The Chelsea manager said that he was not concerned at the failure of Torres to score in his first three games for the club, adding that the "movement" of Anelka and Torres had been the key to a commanding Chelsea attack in which they dominated the Danish champions, particularly in the first half.

Ancelotti said: "[Torres] doesn't have to lose confidence because he didn't score. He played very well for the team, with good combinations, and I'm happy. It doesn't matter if he didn't score.

"Fernando, obviously needs to take time to know our football. He's doing better game by game. If he doesn't score, it isn't a problem. Anelka was able to score and Torres had a lot of opportunities that he created with his movement. He will score in the next game."

Ancelotti was reluctant to say that Chelsea had turned the corner after a run of only seven wins in 20 games. He compared the result to when his Milan team narrowly got past Celtic 1-0 on aggregate in their run to the Champions League final in 2007, which they won.

"I don't want to say. I've suggested once or twice before that [the bad run has ended] ," Ancelotti said. "But we had a lot of motivation for this game, but now we have to continue it. United will be a fantastic opportunity for us to maintain the same level of football.

"Copenhagen tried to press, but we played quickly in front to avoid their pressing. That was good. When I said we played with intelligence, it was for this reason. We didn't give them the opportunity to press.

"We are still alive. I had an idea before the game [that Chelsea's season was not over], and I maintain the same idea now. We are not dead. It's just one game, though. I want to see my team play like that again, again, again."

The 3-1 defeat for Tottenham Hotspur to Blackpool last night was also good news for Chelsea in their effort to get back into the top four of the Premier League to qualify for next season's Champions League. Ancelotti said: "We don't have to be happy for Tottenham's defeat, but it was good news for us. This was the first half of this game [against Copenhagen]. Now we have to play against United and try and put in the same performance as we did against [Copenhagen]."