Cole: Chelsea must rule Europe to sit at the top table

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The Independent Football

The Champions League remains the only trophy to have eluded the all-conquering wallet of the club's sugar- daddy owner, Roman Abramovich, and Joe Cole yesterday admitted Chelsea will never be as big a club as Manchester United until they win it.

Chelsea have contested five semi-finals in the six years Cole has spent at the club, without winning European football's major club prize. Cole said: "Chelsea are being built as a club with genuine claims to be the biggest club we can be, as big as Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, then you have to win major trophies. The Champions League will help us worldwide to show we're here to do business. We've come very close in the last five years and maybe should have won it once or twice."

Cole will be given his first Champions League start at the Vicente Calderon tonight since tearing his cruciate ligaments in January. He sat in the Stamford Bridge stands last season as the club went out on away goals in the semi-final to Barcelona. Cole said: "That was the most difficult game to watch. I was convinced it was going to be our year. It didn't happen for us, and it hurt like it hurt every other Chelsea fan. But that's in the past. Now it's a fresh chance to win it."

Ashley Cole faces a late fitness test but is expected to return to a back four that will also include centre-half Alex.

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