Di Matteo warns Chelsea: 'Nothing has been done yet'
Published 19:15 03/04/12 By Martin Lipton
Roberto Di Matteo has warned his Chelsea players not to wreck all their hard work by taking Benfica for granted.
The Blues are red-hot favourites to make their sixth Champions League semi-final in nine years after last week’s win at the Stadium of Light.
Only two sides have gone out of the Champions League after winning the first leg away from home, but Di Matteo said: “We are 1-0 up but that is a dangerous result.
“It is only half-time. 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.
“Nothing has been done yet. We’re aware of that. We need to go and qualify for the next round.”
Di Matteo, set to leave Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard on the bench but boosted by the fitness of David Luiz, Raul Meireles and Branislav Ivanovic, added: “This tie is far from over.
“We have to remember Benfica have scored in every away game of their Champions League season, so it’s a difficult task.
“It means we’ll have to approach this game like the Napoli game last month because they are a very good side as they showed in Lisbon and in all those away game.
“To go to Old Trafford and get a draw, as they did, we know how hard that is. They have some exceptional players and talents in their team so we know they’re still a threat.
“They will have to come here and try to win the tie. We expect them to play attacking and to try and score goals.
"I don’t think they’ll go crazy and will keep their style, but use the technical players they have to win the tie. We must be focused from the start for the whole 90 minutes.”
Di Matteo certainly led by example on Tuesday afternoon, refusing to discuss almost anything other than tomorrow night's game.
The match will mark a month since the Italian succeeded the sacked Andre Villas-Boas, four and a half weeks that have witnessed an incredible turnaround in Chelsea's fortunes.
Six wins and a draw from eight games have sparked something of a clamour for the former Blues midfielder to be given the job full-time, something that will only grow tomorrow night unless disaster strikes.
Di Matteo continued to snub questions about his own future and asked why he was so reluctant to declare he wanted to manage "such a fantastic club full-time", he said: "It's a fantastic club, I'll agree with you on that.
"I need to win games, it's as simple as that. It's a results business and that's all that matters."
Ending Chelsea's agonising wait for Champions League glory - something that looked an impossibility a month ago - would make Di Matteo's claim to the job impossible to ignore.
But, again, he would not go into whether the Blues were capable of lifting the European Cup and his own dreams of doing so.
He said: "I don't think about that. I have no time to think about that anyway. I'm full on in my work all day to prepare the team tactically and physically for the next game.
"There's so little time between games as well, so I haven't really sat down and thought about that."
Chelsea are in the midst of a nightmare schedule of matches and, should they reach the Champions League semi-finals, they will end up playing 11 times in just 40 days.
The Blues had been hoping to convince the Football Association to bring forward the kick-off time of their FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham on April 15 from 6pm, to give them more time to prepare for a potential clash with Barcelona.
It is felt they are doomed to fail and Di Matteo refused to discuss the matter.
Commenting on their fixture congestion, he said: "I think there are a lot of clubs that would like to have so many games, to be involved in all these competitions.
"It's very demanding for the players, but we're in a good place. All the players are available, so that will help us."
He added: "It might become an issue at some point. I don't know Fortunately, we have a fully fit squad, which will help us in the run-in, to be able to play every player we have and give everybody a chance."
The Italian was praised for his bold team selection in Lisbon, while his players have been queueing up to hail his man management, the kind of backing Villas-Boas did not enjoy.
Di Matteo said: "There are a number of players who, maybe, haven't had much chance 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."