Roberto Di Matteo has restored respect at Chelsea says Ramires

Brazilian feels club is on the up again as they aim for Champions League last four

The Chelsea midfielder Ramires said last night that the team had regained its 'respect' after the departure of manager Andre Villas-Boas, as they bid to book a Champions League semi-final place against Barcelona in tonight's second leg against Benfica.

If Chelsea progress they will have the chance of revenge over holders Barcelona, who knocked them out in the last four in 2009 and reached the semi-finals last night with a 3-1 win over Milan at the Nou Camp.

Ramires, whose side lead 1-0 from the first leg in Lisbon, was regarded as one of those players in the Villas-Boas camp but conceded that the dismissal of the young Portuguese coach in February and the temporary appointment of Roberto Di Matteo had changed the club. Ramires, who joined Chelsea from Benfica for £18m in 2010, said that the team was more confident.

 

He said: "We went through a tough period, obviously, and have taken strength from this change in the coach, found new confidence after the change, feeling more respect in ourselves. Roberto has instilled great confidence in us, and we began to realise we are a great team, with great players, and have built from our first victory – in his first game – and gone from strength to strength."

The midfielder is expected to start in a Chelsea team that could also include striker Fernando Torres over Didier Drogba, who trained yesterday. Raul Meireles is also back in contention for the starting line-up having come through a fitness test which puts a question mark over whether Frank Lampard will start the game.

As the last English team left in European competition, Chelsea are facing a difficult run of fixture congestion over the next seven weeks. They have no chance of the Football Association changing its mind over the date of the FA Cup semi-final against referre Bjorn Kuipers were echoed by Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri who said the second penalty given against Alessandro Nesta for tugging the shirt of Sergio Busquets at a corner was "awarded too easily to Barcelona".

Asked about facing Chelsea, the team Barça eliminated in the semi-finals three years ago, Pep Guardiola, their coach, said: "It's too early to talk about playing Chelsea. First they have to get past Benfica. Both teams are very experienced and will be difficult."

He also refused to respond to Ibrahimovic. Guardiola said: "I am not going to answer questions about how Senor Ibrahimovic has played, they are questions for his coach. They were both penalties. They were both given by the referee and we should accept that. To reach this stage five times in a row is a great achievement for the club."

Chelsea, who are bidding to reach a sixth Champions League semi-final in nine years, could start tonight with Fernando Torres over Didier Drogba, who trained yesterday. Raul Meireles is also back in contention for the team having come through a fitness test which puts a question mark over whether Frank Lampard will start the game.

As the last English team left in European competition, Chelsea are facing a difficult run of fixture congestion over the next seven weeks. They have no chance of the Football Association changing their mind over the date of the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham on 15 April, which kicks off at 6pm, and Chelsea wanted brought forward two days.

In response to a question about Torres, who scored on Saturday against Aston Villa, his first goal in the Premier League since September, Di Matteo said that he had noticed a change in the mood of some players. "There are a number who, maybe, haven't had much chances or didn't play as much and are now getting more game-time and expressing themselves at a very good level. We are a team and have to behave like a team. If my strikers work hard for the team and don't score, but someone else does, that's perfectly fine by me."

On the celebrations around Torres when he scored the last goal in the 4-2 win at Villa, Di Matteo said it was a reflection of the "spirit that is flowing through the team at the moment." He said: "Of course, strikers are expected to score goals. That's not a secret. But everybody was happy that we scored that goal and the game was finally over."

Should Torres be selected , it will make a statement about the striker's return to form and how he is regarded in the club. Di Matteo said he would make the decision as to what was the best team at his disposal and that it was not a case of deciding whether the right approach is to attack and see out the tie early or play it more cagey. The Chelsea caretaker manager said that the 1-0 lead from the first leg was "a dangerous result". "This is half-time and we're leading 1-0. But a 1-0 lead is basically nothing. Our players are aware of this, and we'll have to go into this game with the same attitude as against Napoli [in the last round]. Nothing has been done yet. We're aware of that. We need to go and qualify for the next round.

"I didn't think it was a brave selection [for the first leg ]. I thought it was the right selection with the players we had available, with an away game against Benfica. It wasn't a question of being brave. [Tonight] the selection will again reflect the players in best form and shape."

Jorge Jesus, the Benfica coach, maintained that Chelsea were fortunate to win the first leg. He said: "Chelsea have the upper hand, but we are going to approach this game in the same manner as we would have had we won the first game."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence