Cesar Azpilicueta has encouraged his team-mates to seek inspiration from our second-half comeback at Old Trafford on Sunday as we look to secure our place in the Europa League quarter-finals.
The Blues welcome Steaua Bucharest to Stamford Bridge tomorrow with a 1-0 deficit to overturn from the first leg thanks to Raul Rusescu’s penalty in Romania a week ago.
However, having fought back from 2-0 down away at Manchester United in the FA Cup to force a replay, the Chelsea right-back is confident we can progress.
‘It was important for us because after the first half the reaction of the team was very good,’ said the 23-year-old. ‘We were strong mentally and thought we could win the game. We know that if we are at our best level we can beat anybody. The confidence we gained from it will be important for the next game and for the rest of the season.
‘The manager said at half-time we needed to improve, we made some mistakes and they were creating problems, so he made some adjustments. It was the mental aspect that was the most important. We had the confidence to come back in the game and we did it well.
‘Our job is to keep focused and keep working every day in training. The supporters are happy when we win. Everybody wants to win and we need to carry on because we have so many important objectives between now and the end of the season. Hopefully we will win trophies, and if we meet our objectives everyone will be happy.’
In terms of the performance, last week’s game at the National Arena in Bucharest was something of a disappointment, with clear-cut opportunities hard to come by and an away goal proving elusive.
Azpilicueta, though, was quick to refute any suggestions the players had underestimated our opponents.
‘We did treat the game seriously,’ he explained. ‘We went there with the mentality to win, we didn’t play our best game and we lost, it can happen in some games.
‘Now we have the chance to come back and win the game in front of our own supporters, and we will do our best to make sure we do it.
‘We studied Steaua Bucharest as we usually do when we play every team. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but it wasn’t because we weren’t focused, we wanted to win.
‘I don’t think either team is favourite. The reality is that we lost 1-0 and now we play at Stamford Bridge. We need to win the game, what’s important is the score at the end.’
The Spaniard was also eager to praise the recent contribution of Eden Hazard, after the Belgian followed up his last-gasp strike against Sparta Prague in the previous round with a game-changing performance – not to mention a stunning goal – following his introduction against Manchester United at the weekend.
‘The impact Eden had in the last game was very important for the team,’ said Azpilicueta. ‘When he came on we felt the difference, he scored a brilliant goal and changed the way we were playing.
‘We know he’s a very good player, I knew him when he was in France and I knew about the talent he had. These kind of players can make the difference at any time and it’s very important to have him with us.’
Azpilicueta has enjoyed a solid start to life as a Chelsea player having moved to the club from Marseille last August, making 28 appearances thus far, while also earning senior Spain recognition.
Tomorrow’s game will be our 52nd of the campaign, and while he acknowledges it’s a schedule which would test the deepest of squads, he certainly won’t be looking for excuses if we haven’t met our targets come the end of the season.
‘We have the squad to play in all of the competitions, we want to win trophies and we have three objectives,’ he explained. ‘This is the next one, to carry on in the Europa League. We want to win every trophy, that’s our objective and we are not going to sacrifice any competition.
‘We are professional, we are playing a lot of games, it’s the longest season in the history of the club. The last months will decide on the destination of the trophies, but physically it’s possible and mentally we have the capacity to do it.’