Chelsea caretaker Roberto Di Matteo unmoved by potential European heartache for Newcastle
Wednesday 02 May 2012
Roberto Di Matteo, the Chelsea interim manager, admits he will have no sympathy for Newcastle United if his side deprive them of a place in the Champions League by winning the competition later this month.
Chelsea still hope to qualify for next season's tournament via a top-four finish in the league and will move above Newcastle, who are one point ahead of them in fifth, if they beat Alan Pardew's side at Stamford Bridge tonight. But if the club end up falling short of their target in the top flight, they can still book their spot by beating Bayern Munich in the Champions League final on 19 May.
However, that would mean the team that finishes fourth in the Premier League will miss out and Newcastle have a great chance of being the victims of Uefa's rule as they currently only trail Tottenham Hotspur on goal difference. But when asked if he would feel sorry for Newcastle if that situation occurs, Di Matteo said: "No. It is important for us to try and win it and whatever the consequences for somebody else, it doesn't bother us.
"But we are still thinking positively about trying to reach fourth spot and be able to qualify for the Champions League next season."
The match comes just three days before the FA Cup final against Liverpool, but Di Matteo has told his squad to forget the Wembley occasion and focus on Newcastle.
Asked if he feared some players may be more intent on avoiding injury for fear of missing Saturday's match, he added: "We cannot allow ourselves to think like that and I think we've shown before that we don't do that. We know how important the game is for our club and the players who are going to be playing will be fully committed."
Chelsea welcome back Branislav Ivanovic from suspension, but David Luiz and Gary Cahill are still ruled out with hamstring injuries. However, both players were put through intensive individual training sessions away from the rest of the group yesterday and are close to a return.
Di Matteo is now confident they will be fit for the Champions League final, for which Ivanovic and captain John Terry are banned. He said: "They are progressing well. It is impossible for me to give a comeback date, but hopefully they will be ready before the Champions League final."
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