Now in his 10th Champions League campaign with the club, Petr Cech knows better than most just what’s required in order to successfully navigate the knockout stages of the competition and, on the eve of our first leg Round of 16 match against Galatasaray in Istanbul he expressed his excitement at attempting to help us secure a place in the quarter-finals.
Cech, a cornerstone of our success since signing for the club in 2004, has enjoyed a productive season up to this point; as well as surpassing Peter Bonetti to claim the record for the number of clean sheets kept as a Chelsea goalkeeper, he’s been an ever-present in the Premier League, where we currently top the table.
Having won our qualifying group, tomorrow we play our first knockout game in the Champions League since 2012 in a stadium, the Turk Telekom Arena, where the home supporters, renowned for their passionate following, are sure to make life difficult for Jose Mourinho’s side.
‘I’m excited because it’s a knockout game in the Champions League,’ said Cech. ‘It’s always a big challenge for every player. Everybody knows what the atmosphere is like here, I’ve never played here before so I’m looking forward to it.
‘We’ve been having a good period with good results, we want to carry that on in the game tomorrow, we expect a difficult game against a difficult opponent so let’s see, we know we have to be ready.’
The Galatasaray attack will be led by Didier Drogba, a true Chelsea legend and a player Cech knows so well from their time together at Stamford Bridge.
It was thanks to the two players we were able to win the competition for the first time in our history in Munich, with Drogba’s decisive spot-kick, which ensured he ended his time at the club in the most dramatic fashion, following three penalty saves by Cech over the course of the 120 minutes and extra-time.
‘It’s a new situation for us, for nine years Didier was a huge part of our team, a successful team,’ said the 31-year-old.
‘It’s the first time he will play against us and we know how important he is for Galatasaray, how big a player he is, so we need to make sure we play well against him and make sure he doesn’t have chances to score.’
Attempting to nullify the Chelsea attack tomorrow will be Fernando Muslera, Galatasaray’s Uruguayan goalkeeper, a player Cech has been impressed with.
‘He had lots of success with Lazio, that’s why Galatasaray wanted to buy him, in order to build a very strong team full of internationals, quality and experience,’ the Blues No.1 explained.
‘He’s been doing very well with Uruguay, he’s still young and very talented but hopefully we will beat him tomorrow because we have to score goals if we want a good result.’