STATEMENT ON ROBERTO DI MATTEO

Chelsea Football Club has parted company this morning with Manager Roberto Di Matteo.

The team’s recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the Board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season.

The club faces a difficult task ahead in qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League while competing in three other cup competitions. Our aim is to remain as competitive as possible and challenge strongly on all fronts.

The owner and the Board would like to thank Roberto for all he has done for the club since taking over in March. Roberto helped guide us to an historic Champions League victory and a seventh FA Cup. We will never forget the huge contribution he has made to this club’s history and he will always be welcome at Stamford Bridge.

The club will be making an announcement shortly regarding a new first team manager.

CECH: WASTED CHANCES

Petr Cech believes our inability to make the most of good opportunities cost us dearly in Turin, as the Blues were beaten 3-0 by Juventus, a result which leaves our hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League out of our hands.

Two deflected strikes either side of the break – from Fabio Quagliarella and Arturo Vidal – left us with a mountain to climb, before our misery was compounded in the last minute when substitute Sebastian Giovinco raced through to score the home side’s third, ensuring we now need to beat FC Nordsjaelland in our final group game and hope Antonio Conte’s side lose against Shakhtar Donetsk in order to avoid elimination.

In truth, it was no less than the Italian side deserved having dominated for long spells, but Cech, who made a string of crucial saves to frustrate the hosts throughout, was left to rue some clear-cut opportunities in the first half.

‘In the first half we started with a good spirit, we knew it was going to be difficult and that they would put us under pressure, which they did,’ explained the Blues goalkeeper.

‘We defended well when we needed to and then we had three counter-attacks where we could have scored a goal, and that’s what made the difference. In such an important game, if you don’t take your chances it becomes more difficult.

‘They created some chances and then scored what I’d say was a lucky goal with a deflection. In the second half it happened again, with another deflection. It wasn’t our night in terms of luck, but they deserved it because they played really well and created good spaces for themselves.’

From a defensive point of view, these are certainly worrying times, with Roberto Di Matteo’s side having failed to keep a clean sheet over the course of the past 10 games.

The absence of John Terry is understandably a key factor, but Cech isn’t looking for excuses, and argued it must quickly be put right.

‘We have a lot of talent in the team, that’s for sure,’ he said. ‘They are not just Chelsea players by accident, I believe this can guide us through, but we need to start making things better.

‘To concede every game and to not take chances when you have them, you can’t win games like this. We’ll do everything we can to change the situation, but with a run of results which aren’t positive, confidence is not as high as we would like it to be.’

Di Matteo opted to start with Eden Hazard up front, ensuring Fernando Torres was named as one of the substitutes, although the Spaniard did enter the fray late in the game.

‘The manager makes a choice for the team, he believes the team he picks is the one to win a game, so he made his selection the way he did because he felt we could win the game,’ said Cech.

‘As players we respect that, that’s why he’s the manager and why he was given the job. If you start on the bench you need to make sure that you’re ready when you come on.

‘He did very well last season. We won the Champions League and everybody believed he was the right man to continue.

‘They should still believe, the season is still early. We are all in the same boat, the manager and the players have the same responsibility for results.’

FINAL WHISTLE VERDICT: A DIFFICULT NIGHT

Following a defeat that leaves our participation in the Champions League knockout stage in doubt, Roberto Di Matteo discussed his team selection and an unfortunate opening goal that made the task very tough.

The manager, who was without Daniel Sturridge due to a hamstring injury, opted not start Fernando Torres and instead pushed Eden Hazard further forward with Juan Mata and Oscar for support. He also selected Cesar Azpilicueta on the right side of midfield.

Against the side he took on many times as a Lazio player, Di Matteo had to watch as Chelsea conceded two deflected efforts and a 90th-minute goal, giving Juventus a comfortable 3-0 win.

Shakhtar Donetsk have not yet secured top spot in the group but they have qualified for the knockout stages. Chelsea now need them to win at home against the Italian league leaders on the same night we must beat Nordsjaelland at the Bridge.

‘We wanted to reinforce our midfield a little bit and try to control their left side where Asamoah and Marchisio play,’ Di Matteo explained, ‘and also not to give a point of reference for their centre-backs with Hazard, Mata and Oscar interchanging positions and finding space.

‘Hazard had the first good chance and Oscar and Mata also found themselves with ones in front of the keeper. In transition I thought we were very dangerous and created some good opportunities.

‘But the first goal was unlucky, a big deflection, and Petr Cech got something on it but couldn’t quite save it. In crucial, tight games the first goal is often decisive.

‘My conviction was 100 per cent to go for this team and it did create some problems for Juventus. The second goal was a deflection as well but after the first goal we had to take a few more risks to get into the game again.’

On chasing the game…
‘Credit to Juventus, they are very strong at home and put us under alot of pressure and so we found it difficult in the second half, more than the first half. After the second goal we had to open up and that made it quite hard for us, it allowed them more space.’

On the mood after the game…
‘There is big disappointment, it is a difficult evening for us, the team and the club, and there was a lot of reflection.

‘I am responsible for the result and the performance and it is a negative evening for us. I selected a team that I was convinced was the right team to win or at least take a draw so the blame belongs to me.’

On the final group games to come…
‘While there is hope you still try and who says Juventus are not going to lose to Shakhtar Donetsk. We just have to make sure we win our last game and 10 points is usually enough. Sometimes it is not but many times it is enough to qualify.’

MATCH REPORT: JUVENTUS 3 CHELSEA 0

Summary
The Blues will now need to keep one eye firmly on the result in Donetsk when we take on Nordsjaelland in the final group game, having been well beaten in Italy.

The manner of the first two Juventus goals may have been a little unfortunate, Petr Cech wrong-footed by a deflection in each half, but once Eden Hazard had not taken an early chance when the game was scoreless, Chelsea never truly looked like scoring again.

The Italian champions had been denied by a very good Cech save early on and although they created few clear-cut chances, they were in control for large parts of the match and finished it off with a third goal just before the final whistle.

Team news
Fernando Torres was left out and with Daniel Sturridge having strained a hamstring in training the night before, Eden Hazard was handed the task of leading the attack.

Roberto Di Matteo sprung another surprise by naming Cesar Azpilicueta on the right of midfield, playing in front of the returning Branislav Ivanovic. Ashley Cole was also back, to play the 100th European game of his career, 99 of them in the Champions League. Juan Mata and Oscar, who started on the bench for the West Brom game were both back in the starting line-up.

Juventus were able field Mirko Vucinic up front after an illness scare and paired him with Fabio Quagliarella who came off the bench to score at the Bridge.

First half
On what was always likely to be a night when the Blues’ defensive resolve would be tested, there was concern as early as the second minute when an Ivanovic slip allowed Asamoah to put a cross in which Cole initially kicked skywards but Cech eventually caught. Then a couple of minutes later came a genuine scare when a ball was chipped over to the left of our six-yard box and Lichtensteiner met it, only for Cech to push it onto the post. A fine piece of goalkeeping at such an early stage in the game.

Chelsea were under pressure but on eight minutes it was our turn to go very close to scoring. It was Oscar who broke shackles, embarking on a fine run through the middle and finding his way past two Juventus men before drawing the last defender and playing the perfect pass out to Hazard. The Belgian’s shot was on target but Buffon, as he has done on so many occasions, came to the Italians rescue. He diverted the ball into the sidenetting with his knee. Chelsea wouldn’t come as close to scoring again in the opening period.

Juventus came back strongly and forced three corners in quick succession, the third leading to a Marchisio shot that was heading just inside the post until Cech saved one-handed.

The Serie A side kept peppering the Chelsea goal with shots but nothing to test Cech on this form. Midway through the half, Ivanovic was judged to have fouled Vidal just outside the penalty area, a touch harshly, but Pirlo’s free-kick disappointed the Juventus tifosi in the Curva Sud behind the goal. Cech again saved.

Chelsea did mount an attack just before the half-hour, aided by good hold-up play from Hazard and then a mistake from PIrlo but Ramires’s shot was always bending high and wide.

There was a tremendous tackle from Cole soon after to dispossess the rapid Quagiarella who looked to be escaping David Luiz and heading for goal, before Hazard twisted onto his right foot inside the Juve area but had a shot charged down.

The deadlock was finally broken on 37 minutes and when it came it was unlucky for Chelsea, Quagliarella’s speculative shot taking deflection before beating Cech. It needed something like that to beat our keeper in this form.

Suddenly there was much happening at both ends. Cole cleared off the Chelsea line after Juventus had bundled the goalwards inside a crowded six-yard box, and then we countered, only for Mata to make a poor connection as he stretched to meet Azpilicueta’s cross.

Five minutes before the break Bonucci became the game’s first booked player for sticking out a leg to impede Hazard just inside the Juve half.

Further Chelsea efforts to score were more in hope than expectation and the home side took a lead into the dressing room they deserved on balance of play, even if their own chances had been infrequent.

Second half
Juventus were convinced they should have had a penalty four minutes into the half when an incisive move ended with Vucinic turning inside Cahill but the ref decided an arm briefly across the centre-forward’s stomach was not enough for a foul.

The Blues went straight up the other end and Mata was chopped down inside the ‘D’ on the edge of the penalty area. Unfortunately when he picked himself up and took the free-kick, he could do no more than plant it into the wall.

Cech was again extended on 57 minutes to push a 20-yard shot wide and then he did well to keep Vucinic out wide after Juve had beaten the offside flag.

Azpilicueta had done a good job of harassing the Juventus left-flank but with Chelsea in desperate need of some scoring chances, Di Matteo decided on 59 minutes it was time to replace him with Victor Moses.

Before the Nigerian could have any impact on the game however, Juventus made it 2-0. Having worked space on our right, Asamoah was able to pick out Vidal on the edge of the area. Cech may well have dealt with the shot but this time Ramires was the unlucky player deflecting it in.

It was hard to see how we were going to come back from this, a point emphasised when Buffon claimed a corner in commanding fashion.

Torres was introduced for the final 20 minutes, Mikel the man taken off and Oscar asked to play deeper.

Vucinic had the chance to totally kill the game but missed a sitter.

Moses was then found inside the Juve penalty area by Hazard and managed to get a shot in but Barzaghi was in position to block. David Luiz then tried from distance but cleared the bar. Ramires also picked up a booking.

There were just 10 minutes left to somehow find two goals. Torres showed vision to find Oscar in space but the chance to shoot disappeared as the Brazilian got his feet tangled, but the final punch was landed by Juve substitute Giovinco. He ran through onside after an counter-attack cut us open and with Cech doing all he could do in charging out of his goal, the ball was slipped past him to make it 3-0.

We now need to win our final game and hope Shakhtar Donetsk beat Juventus when the Italians travel to Ukraine.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech (c); Ivanovic, Cahill, David Luiz, Cole; Ramires, Mikel (Torres 70); Azpilicueta (Moses 59), Oscar, Mata; Hazard.
Unused subs Turnbull, Bertrand, Romeu, Marin, Piazon.
Booked Ramires 75.

Juventus (4-2-3-1): Buffon (c); Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner (Caceres 66), Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Quagliarella (Pogba 88), Vucinic (Giovinco 82).
Unused subs Storari, Pepe, Giaccherini, Matri.Scorers Quagliarella 37. Vidal 60, Giovinco 90.
Booked Bonucci 40, Marchisio 84.

Referee Cüneyt Çak?r from Turkey.
Crowd
39,670.

CHELSEA TV HEADLINES: COUNTDOWN TO KICK-OFF

The latest Blues News bulletin from Chelsea TV, which can be viewed here, comes from central Turin ahead of tonight’s important meeting with Juventus.

On the channel’s online access now there are preview interviews with Roberto Di Matteo, Petr Cech and our two young Brazilians, Oscar, who has four Champions League goals so far this season, and Lucas Piazon.