LEVEL SETTING FOR SHAKHTAR

Roberto Di Matteo, on his arrival at the impressive Donbass Arena in Donetsk, reported no price was paid for the win at Spurs in terms of injuries.

The Italian has been able to take the same squad to Ukraine as he did to White Hart Lane on Saturday, so 20 players trained on Shakhtar’s pitch 24 hours before our third Champions League group game. Marko Marin narrowly missed being fit to re-join the squad after a minor groin strain.

Having plenty of his top players available is essential for the significant challenge set by a Shakhtar side with a 100 per cent league record this season, and the same points total as Chelsea in the Champions Group group so far. Di Matteo also emphasised the quality of the Shakhtar coach, Mircea Lucescu who managed three clubs in Italy, including during the time Di Matteo was a Lazio player.

‘I remember watching his teams a lot in the past and he has always played with the same philosophy,’ said the Chelsea manager.

‘Quick, possession football and you can see Shakhtar Donetsk want to play out from the back with the goalkeeper and with a lot of tactically good and fast players. He is an excellent coach with a lot of experience and he has done extremely well here at Shakhtar.’

Lucescu, in his pre-match press conference, discussed a past Chelsea offer to buy Shakhtar’s Brazilian winger Willian. Di Matteo had a say on the player too.

‘As an assistant [at the time] I wasn’t involved in those conversations but Willian is a fantastic player with good qualities. We have a good squad with good players and I don’t know where his future is, but the way he is playing here he looks quite happy.’

Juan Mata, likely to be one the players sent out by Di Matteo to face Willian and team-mates tomorrow, says Chelsea will play to win and anticipates two sides with a similar style.

‘I think it is going to be a fight for the ball,’ said the Spaniard. ‘They are a team with quality players, quality in the midfield area and in their league they always have the ball and a lot of chances to score. So tomorrow we will try to play our football as we did in the last two months, enjoy ourselves and the level we are playing at. We expect a rival team always wanting the ball.’

With Chelsea’s football now winning many admirers, it was suggested to Di Matteo that he has yet to be given enough credit for the job he is doing, but first Mata had some words about his boss.

‘Robbie knows very well the team, and the club as well. He used to be a legend here and now as a manager he connects very well with the team. In every meeting he goes deep inside each one of us, talking about every game, and it’s very important to be ready for every competition. He knows how important it is for the club to play these games, to win the Champions League like last season, so for us he is the perfect manager.

‘I am just happy to be leading this group and working with these players and working for the club that I have in my heart,’ said Di Matteo.

‘The players deserve all the credit as it has been extremely difficult last season and also this season with integrating players and our system of play. I am just here to help and do my job well as I can and hopefully we can continue for a long time.’

DONETSK – A MEDICAL OPINION

Of all the travelling party arriving in Donetsk today, no one knows the city and the club Chelsea face in our third Champions League game of the season better than our medical director Paco Biosca.

The highly experienced Spanish doctor, who joined Chelsea at the start of last season, held a similar role at Shakhtar for six years prior to his move to England. He has been very much looking forward to a return to Ukraine ever since the group stage draw was made.

‘In recent times more people in England know about Donetsk and the club because the national team of England played there in Euro 2012, and had a very exciting match against Ukraine,’ Biosca tells the official Chelsea website.

‘They now know the stadium and the stadium is a reflection of the club.

‘The city of Donetsk is quite a new city,’ he explains, ‘and was founded by one Welsh guy because he was a miner and they were developing the city around the mines. After the USSR when Ukraine began alone, it was a part of Ukraine that developed more.

‘It is a very quiet city and the Ukraine people are very open and very quiet. When I looked on the television before the Euros and it said that they have neo-nazis and ultras, it was nothing of the reality, the people are very calm.’

John Hughes is the name of the man who gave rise to the city, which was named Hughesovka (Yuzovka in local spelling) in his honour. It has since undergone a couple of name changes but the coal and steel industry he initiated remain.

‘It is true the economic level is not high,’ says Biosca, ‘but it is a city that has good education for all the people and the people have good things. The people who have money have a lot of good things.

‘The centre of the city is nice to walk in and in the summer it is called the City of the Million Flowers. People live a lot outside at this time but in winter, December to March, it is too cold.’

Biosca

Biosca sees similarities between Shakhtar Donetsk and Chelsea, with both clubs enjoying the most successful period in their history during the last decade.

‘The owner of Chelsea wants to make Chelsea the best team in the world, and there arrived a president at Shakhtar who said I want to make my team the best in the world. In the years I stayed there they finished the construction of their academy, the new stadium and they won the UEFA Cup. They arrived at the quarter-finals of the Champions League where they lost to the eventual champions and they won five league titles. Always before it was Dynamo Kiev.

‘The president is a very clever guy and he has a very structured club.’

Biosca, who worked at Spanish club Lleida for 25 years, was originally contacted by Shakhtar when they wanted advice on improving their medical department. He was president of the European Federation of Orthopedics and Sports Trauma.

Having made a report, he met with the president who asked him to take on a full-time role. During that period he worked closely with Mircea Lucescu, the Romanian coach known to Chelsea from our meetings with Be?ikta? in 2003. The Turkish side he then managed beat us at the Bridge and we defeated them in a match relocated to Germany.

‘Shakhtar’s success is not due to only one guy – there is the president and there is the infrastructure – but for certain we need to speak about Lucescu,’ insists Biosca.

‘He is more than a coach, he is a man with very good human qualities. He is a very big coach but he is more a big man with a very big heart. But he is very competitive. He wants to win in any moment.

‘It will be a noisy match on Tuesday,’ concludes the doctor.

‘Chelsea is the bigger club of course and we are the favourites, but in my heart I want both teams to qualify out of the group. Also what I want this season is we play three matches against Shakhtar – the group games and the final.’

CECH: KNOWING BETTER KNOWING HOW

Most of the focus was understandably on the attacking part of Chelsea’s play following the four-goal haul that overcame Tottenham at the weekend, but with Andre Villas-Boas’s side registering 16 shots on-target during the game, Petr Cech played an important part in the victory too.

No save was probably more crucial than the one from Kyle Walker close to the end that kept the Blues in the lead, moments before the same Spurs full-back was robbed by Juan Mata who found Daniel Sturridge to make sure of the win. It was a save that pleased the Chelsea goalkeeper.

‘I didn’t see the ball much because there was a wall of defenders and players standing there,’ explained Cech, ‘and I think David Luiz wanted to kick the ball away and suddenly he pulled his leg back. This was only when I saw the ball so it was a good reaction, I am glad I managed to turn it around the post.

‘There were a lot of shots and we knew at home Tottenham would always threaten, and that is what happened. But we defended very well as a unit overall and in the last 20 minutes we could have scored more goals.

‘They had some chances and we had some chances and in the end we put them in the back of the net which made the difference. It was a great reaction from our players because at 2-1 down and having not won at Spurs for a long time, you think here we go again but it was not the case and we knew how to get back into the game. We scored some great goals.

‘If you start slowly in this league, you get punished quickly,’ Cech added, turning his attention to the two-goal salvo that wiped out the Chelsea first-half lead. ‘Tottenham are a very good team and this is why they punished us for starting slowly at the start of the second half, but this is something to learn from and it shows a lot of things about our team, that we didn’t collapse and it gave us a lot of motivation to come back into the game.

‘We conceded two goals and we still won a game away from home against a team with a lot of quality players, and we are delighted with that.’

Cech is a player who understands the strain of being a near-ever present in a team challenging for multiple trophies plus mixing it with an international career, and he adds his name to those who believe the rest given to Juan Mata recently did the player, and consequently the Chelsea team, a power of good. There was plenty of evidence for this on Saturday.

‘People were surprised when he left us after the start of the season and went for a holiday but you can’t play two seasons in a row,’ insisted Cech.

‘By this time he would have been burnt out without any break but now you can see he still has the hunger to play and he is fit and has a lot of energy. It is great to see him playing like that.’

Cech flies with the rest of the squad to Ukraine today (Monday) for an important Champions League game, and the big matches keep coming on the return to league action next weekend as we look to extend a run that has seen just two points dropped from a possible 24.

‘We have made many good starts in the time I have been here but we started slowly the first two games this season. We seem to get better as the team gets to know each other,’ said Cech.

‘Now we have played two tough away games at Arsenal and Spurs and we got six points which is a huge advantage, but now we await the game against Manchester United at home because that will be a another big test.’

CECH: KNOWING HOW

Most of the focus was understandably on the attacking part of Chelsea’s play following the four-goal haul that overcame Tottenham at the weekend, but with Andre Villas-Boas’s side registering 16 shots on-target during the game, Petr Cech played an important part in the victory too.

No save was probably more crucial than the one from Kyle Walker close to the end that kept the Blues in the lead, moments before the same Spurs full-back was robbed by Juan Mata who found Daniel Sturridge to make sure of the win. It was a save that pleased the Chelsea goalkeeper.

‘I didn’t see the ball much because there was a wall of defenders and players standing there,’ explained Cech, ‘and I think David Luiz wanted to kick the ball away and suddenly he pulled his leg back. This was only when I saw the ball so it was a good reaction, I am glad I managed to turn it around the post.

‘There were a lot of shots and we knew at home Tottenham would always threaten, and that is what happened. But we defended very well as a unit overall and in the last 20 minutes we could have scored more goals.

‘They had some chances and we had some chances and in the end we put them in the back of the net which made the difference. It was a great reaction from our players because at 2-1 down and having not won at Spurs for a long time, you think here we go again but it was not the case and we knew how to get back into the game. We scored some great goals.

‘If you start slowly in this league, you get punished quickly,’ Cech added, turning his attention to the two-goal salvo that wiped out the Chelsea first-half lead. ‘Tottenham are a very good team and this is why they punished us for starting slowly at the start of the second half, but this is something to learn from and it shows a lot of things about our team, that we didn’t collapse and it gave us a lot of motivation to come back into the game.

‘We conceded two goals and we still won a game away from home against a team with a lot of quality players, and we are delighted with that.’

Cech is a player who understands the strain of being a near-ever present in a team challenging for multiple trophies plus mixing it with an international career, and he adds his name to those who believe the rest given to Juan Mata recently did the player, and consequently the Chelsea team, a power of good. There was plenty of evidence for this on Saturday.

‘People were surprised when he left us after the start of the season and went for a holiday but you can’t play two seasons in a row,’ insisted Cech.

‘By this time he would have been burnt out without any break but now you can see he still has the hunger to play and he is fit and has a lot of energy. It is great to see him playing like that.’

Cech flies with the rest of the squad to Ukraine today (Monday) for an important Champions League game, and the big matches keep coming on the return to league action next weekend as we look to extend a run that has seen just two points dropped from a possible 24.

‘We have made many good starts in the time I have been here but we started slowly the first two games this season. We seem to get better as the team gets to know each other,’ said Cech.

‘Now we have played two tough away games at Arsenal and Spurs and we got six points which is a huge advantage, but now we await the game against Manchester United at home because that will be a another big test.’

REACTION: THAT'S THE WAY TO DO IT

Gary Cahill and Juan Mata, the scorers of three out of Chelsea’s four goals at White Hart Lane, both spoke afterwards about the character evident when recovering from Tottenham’s 10-minute assault at the start of the second half.

Cahill struck a blistering volley, an impressive fourth goal in eight appearances this season, to put the Blues on the right path in Saturday lunchtime’s match, but two goals from the home side as they caught us cold at the start of the second half asked plenty of questions. But the answers were good as Roberto Di Matteo’s men steadied themselves and then struck back through Juan Mata’s fifth and sixth goals of the season, capped at the very end when the Spaniard set up Daniel Sturridge to make it a 4-2 win.

‘It was a tough game and we knew it was going to be like that, playing away from home, but it was a fantastic result,’ said Cahill who had returned to the side for suspended John Terry.

‘We worked hard and we created chances. Even after we had started slowly after the break, we kept going and creating, and Juan scored two fantastic goals.’

‘It was tougher than the scoreline suggests,’ agreed Mata.

‘We didn’t start the second half very well, they scored two goals, but we are a team that always believes in our qualities and has confidence so we did really well in the last 25 minutes.’

Prior to his goals, Mata shot over the bar in the first half and could have had a rapid hat-trick in the second half but his chip shortly after his second goal was caught by Brad Friedel.

‘Maybe Fernando [Torres] was in the best position to put the ball into the net,’ he admitted, ‘but two goals were enough and the most important thing is we came back [from being behind].’

Cahill was naturally happy with his cracking opening goal after the ball had dropped just inside the area from William Gallas’s attempted clearing header.

‘I just wanted to get a good connection and when I hit it I knew I had done that, and thankfully it hit the roof of the net,’ said the central defender.

‘Now we just want to keep the momentum going. We have started the season well, and it is only the start, but if we continue with the form we are showing at the minute then we won’t go far wrong.’

‘If you win and you can play as we played at Tottenham, that is the best way to play,’ added Mata.

‘We always try to play with the ball and try to move and look for the gaps between the lines, and in the second half we did it really well. We are playing well and we are all enjoying this moment.

‘What we need to do is keep training hard and now we play Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine and we want to stay at the top of our group in the Champions League.

‘It is too early to think about winning the Premier League, it is our aim of course, but what we have to do is keep going and keep on enjoying ourselves.’


There is more from
Gary Cahill and Juan Mata, speaking to Chelsea TV and available now via the channel’s online access.