Chelsea can take confidence from 2012 triumph ahead of Champions League second-leg against Atletico Madrid, says Gary Cahill
The Blues drew 0-0 in the Spanish capital, but lost both Petr Cech and John Terry
Wednesday 23 April 2014
Gary Cahill believes Chelsea can take belief from previously triumphing in adversity as Jose Mourinho's men bid to advance to the Champions League final.
Chelsea, who drew 0-0 at Atletico Madrid in Tuesday night's semi-final first leg, were without suspended captain John Terry and his fellow defender Branislav Ivanovic in winning the 2012 European Cup for the first time in Munich.
Terry may feature if the Blues reach the May 24 final in Lisbon, but an ankle injury rules him out of next Wednesday's second leg with Atletico, while goalkeeper Petr Cech (dislocated shoulder) is out for the season and Frank Lampard and his fellow midfielder John Obi Mikel are banned for the return.
It leaves Mourinho's options limited and the Portuguese is considering fielding a weakened team at Anfield in a move which could see the title surrendered to Liverpool and anger third-placed Manchester City, who could overhaul Liverpool if Chelsea win and they win their game in-hand.
With the Blues five points adrift of Liverpool with three games to play, Mourinho wishes to prioritise the Champions League and Cahill is determined to advance to a third European final in three years.
"It is a huge blow to lose so many players," said Cahill, who was part of the Champions League and Europa League-winning teams in successive seasons.
"We look back at how we coped with a similar situation on the way to winning it in 2012 and it gives us confidence.
"It's never ideal to lose players but we have the squad to cope with it.
"I'm sure the manager would prefer to have every single player fit and healthy for selection but that's not going to be the case.
"We seem to be able to grind out results when we need to in this competition.
"We're really, really close to the final now, we have one more game at home and have to give it every single thing we've got.
"Then we have a good few weeks to get some of the players back but we can't think too far ahead.
"We have one huge game to go, we have to focus and give everything next week."
There are similarities, but also a notable contrast to Chelsea's European Cup-winning season.
Two years ago the Blues were out of domestic contention - they finished sixth - but now they are in the title hunt, albeit with a slim chance of the trophy after last Saturday's loss to Sunderland, the disciplinary fallout of which is ongoing.
Mourinho plans to consult the club hierarchy, including owner Roman Abramovich, before determining his team selection at Anfield, but his personal view is that an alternative team is required as the second leg with Atletico is now the priority.
The Portuguese is angered by the refusal of the football authorities to move the Premier League contest forward to allow his side more time to prepare for the second leg and that may come into his thinking.
The Premier League regulation that forbade clubs from fielding under-strength teams - something Blackpool fell foul of in 2011 - no longer exists, but the integrity of the competition is at stake.
Chelsea are unlikely to field a starting XI of academy players as Lampard, Mikel, Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah - both ineligible in Europe - are likely to feature against Liverpool, while Ivanovic is available following suspension to reinforce the side against Atletico.
Mark Schwarzer is poised to deputise for Cech after Chelsea fielded three goalkeepers in the same game on Tuesday night, with Thibaut Courtois in the opposing net on his third successive season on loan at the Vicente Calderon Stadium.
Schwarzer has twice lost European finals - for Middlesbrough in 2006 and Fulham four years later - and is eager for action.
"I'm ready to play," the 41-year-old told Chelsea TV.
"Throughout the whole season I've tried to prepare in the warm-up as if I was playing.
"I try to be ready mentally and prepare as best as I can. On the bench I'm ready, so I don't have to do anything other than take my tracksuit off.
"I really enjoyed it and it was one of those nights where everything went well and I did come off the pitch very satisfied with the way the game went."
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