Chelsea relishing 'unfinished business' with Barcelona after reaching Champions League semi-finals
Nervy win over 10-man Benfica sets up chance of revenge – but Mourinho adds to intrigue
Thursday 05 April 2012
Frank Lampard said last night Chelsea want to settle their “unfinished business” with their old foes Barcelona, whom they will meet in this month's Champions League semi-finals after beating Benfica 2-1 last night.
The victory set up a rematch of 2009's controversial tie at the same stage with Barcelona, in which Chelsea felt cheated by some of the decisions from Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo. Last night the Real Madrid coach, Jose Mourinho, whose side face Bayern Munich in the other semi-final, added to the intrigue when he hinted that referees are afraid not to give Barcelona favourable treatment.
There was further drama last night when it emerged that John Terry has aggravated two suspected fractured ribs and will go for a scan today on the injury. The Chelsea captain came off after 59 minutes and is one of the individuals Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo can scarcely do without in a heavy forthcoming fixture list.
Lampard's penalty gave Chelsea a first-half lead last night, and Benfica's Maxi Pereira was sent off soon after. Javi Garcia pulled one back with a header but Raul Meireles guaranteed Chelsea's progress with a stoppage-time goal.
"Everyone's got unfinished business with them," Lampard said of Barcelona last night. "They're the greatest team in the world. They have been and still are."
"That game is still in our minds but this is a different year and we have to try to beat them but we can believe we can do it."
Lampard was referring to the 2009 semi-final, when Andres Iniesta's stoppage-time strike sent Barcelona through on away goals, but Chelsea left infuriated after being denied four strong penalty appeals by Ovrebo.
Meanwhile, Mourinho hinted last night that dark forces would prevent a meeting in the final between his current and former clubs. He has long suggested that Barcelona receive preferential decisions.
"Let me be honest," the Portuguese said, "I don't think the final will be a Real Madrid-Chelsea final. I prefer to say only this: I don't think it will be Real v Chelsea. It could be Bayern or Barcelona, I just don't think it will be Real Madrid v Chelsea and we know why."
The Benfica coach, Jorge Jesus, is not confident about Chelsea's chances in the semis. "Over the two games we proved we were much the better team," he said. "What hurts me is that we've knocked out better teams than this Chelsea. I may be wrong but I believe Chelsea have no chance against Barcelona."
Di Matteo said that he was "excited" about the prospect of facing the European champions. "We will find a strategy that will suit our players and our team to face Barcelona," he added. "We've faced them a lot of times over the years and a lot of our players have some history against Barcelona. Certainly they felt a bit hard done by when we played them the last time, three years ago."
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