Petr Cech believes only our best will be good enough if we are to become the first team to retain the Champions League trophy, with opponents inevitably eager to get one over on the current holders.
As Roberto Di Matteo’s men prepare to begin the defence of our crown against Italian champions Juventus at Stamford Bridge, the Czech international, who was so instrumental in the decisive game against Bayern Munich last season, making two penalty saves in the shoot-out as well as one in extra time from Arjen Robben, is under no illusions as to the magnitude of the task ahead.
‘Anybody who plays against us will want to raise their game, we are the defending champions so its extra motivation for everybody,’ Cech tells the official Chelsea website.
‘We’re playing Juventus, who have been missing from the Champions League for a few seasons, so they will definitely want to show they are back.
‘Last time we played them we beat them in the knockout stages [in 2009], so this is a chance for them to get revenge for that defeat.’
While the Blues have never failed to emerge from the group stages in the competition, last time around it went right down to the wire due to our inability to win away from home, where in every game we took the lead without being able to see it through, and Cech is hopeful we will have heeded the lessons from last season.
‘The sooner you can qualify from the group, the better it is,’ says the 30-year-old. ‘But whether you qualify on the last day or the first day it’s not important, the main thing is just to get through.
‘If we win every home game and lose every away game but win the Champions League, it doesn’t really matter. We want to improve, though, because in all of our away games last season we were in a good position but failed to kill the match off, so that’s definitely an area we want to build on to make our life easier.’
Juventus, who last won the competition in 1996, head into the game in a rich vein of form and without a Serie A league defeat in 42 matches.
There is certainly no shortage of talent in the Italians’ ranks and, with Andrea Pirlo, who enjoyed a wonderful Euro 2012, pulling the strings in the heart of midfield, the Blues will need to implement a way of playing which prevents the 33-year-old from dictating the flow of the game.
From a defensive perspective, however, it’s been a good start to the season, with three clean sheets from four games, something which should stand us in good stead during a competition where the ability to keep the opposition at bay is almost as important as scoring a goal.
‘It’s always better if you can keep a clean sheet in the Champions League as it relieves the pressure,’ says Cech.
‘It’s been a positive start in that sense and we want to keep it going. Against Juventus it will be important as I don’t see a game with many goals.
‘They’ve been doing well and they will want to keep progressing. They have quite a few younger players who came through a couple of years ago who are still there, they have a very good defence and of course [Gianluigi] Buffon in goal, so it’s going to be a very difficult game.’