'Blame me for this defeat,' said underfire Di Matteo


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The Independent Football

Roberto Di Matteo said that he had to shoulder the blame for Chelsea's 3-0 defeat to Juventus last night that leaves the club on the brink of elimination at the Champions League group stage next month.

The Chelsea manager took his time emerging from the dressing room after his team were comprehensively beaten in Turin with goals from Fabio Quagliarella, Arturo Vidal and substitute Sebastian Giovinco. There are already suggestions that the club may be looking at Rafael Benitez as a possible replacement until the end of the season should Pep Guardiola continue to turn down their advances.

Di Matteo, who left Fernando Torres out of the starting XI for the first time this season, said: "I'm responsible for the result. I'm responsible for the performance. It's a negative evening for us. If anyone has to take the blame, it's me. I selected a team I was convinced was the right team to win against Juventus, or get at least a draw, so the blame belongs to me."

On the question of his own future, Di Matteo said that it was out of his hands. He said: "At the moment, I think, with the team we are all in it together. I'm responsible for the results. At the moment I am here and I think I will be for the future. It's probably not a question you should ask me but, as far as I'm concerned, I'll keep working."

The midfielder John Obi Mikel was critical of the team's performance in a post-match interview and goalkeeper Petr Cech admitted that Chelsea may have left themselves too much to do. He said: "It is a very sad moment because last season the Champions League was like a dream. I wouldn't say it's a nightmare but it's a huge disappointment."

Chelsea must beat the Danish side Nordsjaelland in their final game on 5 December and hope that Juventus lose to Shakhtar Dontesk, who have already qualified, in Ukraine. Di Matteo said: "Well, mathematically, it's still possible. While there's hope you still try. Who says that Juventus aren't going to lose at Shakhtar? We just have to make we do our job at our end, win the last group game. With 10 points, normally, usually, it's enough. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes it is."

The Chelsea manager said that he wanted to change his side's formation in the absence of Torres. "I didn't want to give the [Juventus] centre-backs any point of reference. I'd rather have [Eden] Hazard, Oscar and [Juan] Mata interchanging positions and trying to find the space. Hazard probably had the first good chance for us, Oscar the second and Mata also found himself in front of the keeper. In terms of that transition we were very dangerous and created some good opportunities for us.

"I was convinced it was the right selection which is why I decided that. I thought we did create some problems for them. The first goal was fortunate for them. We had to take a few more risks after that. But my conviction was 100 per cent to go with this team."