Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Beaten Blues Aces Reject Flair Theory

Frank Lampard and John Terry believe Chelsea can conquer Europe without spending big money on a fantasy player like Ronaldinho.

The England duo reject the idea that Jose Mourinho must scrap his own tactical beliefs and accommodate a playmaker who can conjure something out of thin air.

Ronaldinho's magical goal in the Nou Camp may have sealed Chelsea's Champions League fate for another year but the Blues feel they have enough talent to compete with top teams like Barcelona.

Lampard said: "The difference at this level is so small and maybe Ronaldinho with a moment of brilliance is it.

"It was a great goal, great body movement and great skill. But he can do that week in week out.

"That kind of player can always make a difference but I don't think it's a case of us not having a Ronaldinho.

"We have special players who make goals out of nothing and we're a very strong team with a strong spirit.

"What happened to us this year is what happened to Barcelona last year. We are two of the best teams in Europe."

Skipper Terry agreed and added: "It is very unfair to say we need to bring in players who can play off the cuff.

"If you look at our squad, we have three or four individuals, including Damien Duff, Arjen Robben and Joe Cole who can change a game and create something out of nothing.

"Barcelona have the same going forward. We knew it would be very tight and we said at half-time we had to go out and really give it a go, but we could not break them down."

Chelsea drew 1-1 in Barcelona but went out on aggregate after losing the first leg 2-1 at Stamford Bridge.

Boss Mourinho insisted the first game was decisive because his team were forced to play more than half the game with 10 men after Asier del Horno was sent off for a tackle on Lionel Messi.

Lampard said: "If you come to the Nou Camp in the Champions League and draw 1-1, you normally go home more than happy.

"I'm not going to stand here and make excuses because Barca are a great team but we did play the first leg for 60 minutes with 10 men which was a hard call.

"We did it very well, going 1-0 up, but then the legs went a little and because Barcelona are a great attacking side they scored two goals.

"I don't know what the difference between the sides was but it was small."

Chelsea, 15 points clear at the top of the Premiership and in the FA Cup quarter-finals, will now focus on winning the double for the first time in their history.

But the players vowed to return next season to make another serious bid to lift Europe's ultimate club trophy.

Terry said: "Everyone at Chelsea wants to win the European Cup and we will happily play Barcelona again next term and go for it again.

"You want to compete against the best sides in the world and whether we got them in the first round or the semi-final, we would take that.

"It is the worst feeling ever to lose a game but a big one such as last night's, on such a great stage, leaves you gutted.

"We will pick ourselves up. We desperately want to win the FA Cup, we said that right from the start, and we need to keep winning to maintain our lead in the league."

By Matt Barlow, PA Sport Chief Football Writer