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Munich – Chelsea players never expected to get to the Champions League final, stand-in captain Frank Lampard said Friday.
Chelsea take on four-time winners Bayern Munich in Munich on Saturday and Lampard, who will wear the captain's armband in place of the suspended John Terry, said a few months ago, the players would not have believed they could get to the final.
“We are very pleased to be here, but a few months ago, we did not expect to get this far. We always believed in our ability, but we were not getting the results.”
The club changed managers in March and under caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo, things have turned around.
“If there is anybody who deserves a victory in Saturday's match, it is our manager. He has given us the confidence again.”
Lampard, who was in the Chelsea side that lost to Manchester United in the 2008 final, said that the players remaining from that side were looking to take the memory of that defeat and turn it into something positive.
He said that even though Bayern enjoyed home advantage, which would count in their favour, Chelsea could take a positive from that.
“The atmosphere here is great, it is amazing. It gives them an advantage to play at home, but to be underdog gives us the determination. We say: Bring it on. Facing the home team is a great challenge for us.”
Chelsea have to win the final to play Champions League football next season after finishing sixth in the Premier League. “But that is not our driving force. We want to win the match to be Champions League winners.
Ivorian striker Didier Drogba, who was sent off in the final in 2008, said his red card from then was long forgotten and did not give him any extra motivation.
“Like every game I play, I want to enjoy it and we want to win. I am just happy to be in another Champions League final. It is fantastic for the club.
“I think I am lucky to be playing Champions League games. When I was young, I used to watch matches on television and I remember Zinedine Zidane scoring the volley against Leverkusen in the final in 2002.
“Every time I go onto pitch I feel lucky.”
He said that he could understand that Chelsea were criticized for their performances this year. “It is normal that big teams are criticized if they do not win.
“But we also managed to show everyone that we are still a good team. We are doing our best for the club and if we win it tomorrow, everybody will say it is a wonderful season.”
Drogba, who has been linked with a move away from the club, said he was at the moment only concentrating on the final. “After the match, there will be enough time to discuss the future.
“The only thing that I can say is that it is not true to say that I have been offered to Barcelona. I will also sit down with Chelsea and discuss next season.” – +Sapa-dpa