Cole: We mustn't surrender to Messi obsession
Published 10:49 17/04/12 By Martin Lipton
Ashley Cole last night warned his Chelsea team-mates they risk paying the ultimate Champions League price if they fixate on Lionel Messi.
The Argentine superstar has already scored an astonishing 63 goals for Barcelona this season, including a record 14 in the holders' European campaign.
Messi has, however, failed to score in his six previous games against Chelsea, with many Blues fans believing that keeping the South American quiet is THE key to a victory at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
But England left-back Cole, while conceding Messi is the biggest threat to Roberto Di Matteo's side, fears that over-concentrating on the Argentine would simply leave the Blues wide open to the rest of the Catalan pass-masters.
Cole said: "They are not a team that depends on one player, so we can't think like that. Everyone says they are based around Messi and that's it, but I don't think that's the case.
"All their players are world class. Of course, whenever you play Barcelona you have to think about trying to stop Messi, but even if you succeed in that, there's somebody else who will pop up.
"It's vital we pay attention to all them as well, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas and the rest, not just Messi. Any of them can do something magical. We taken take our eye off the ball for a fraction of a second because any of them can do something that is genius."
Cole, like so many of his colleagues, is still haunted by the bitter memories of Chelsea's last meeting with the Catalans, settled by Andres Iniesta's cruel late goal after Chelsea were robbed blind by Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo.
"We have to be completely focused on our game, from the first kick to the last," he added. "When you're playing a team as good as Barcelona, you can't just afford to Aconcentrate for 90 minutes - you have to do it for 94 or 95. We did very well until 93 minutes when Iniesta scored a great goal.
"But if we can do that, we know we have a chance. Very few people thought we'd have got as far as we have, certainly not in December or January.
"But since then we've started playing as a team, which we weren't doing before. The manager left and we had to raise ourselves. We've reacted."