RAMIRES: CHASING A DREAM

With the Blues just 90 minutes away from a third consecutive European final, there is no understating the importance of tonight’s decisive game against Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge, and having missed playing in our 2012 final triumph through suspension, Ramires needs no added incentive to ensure we secure a final date against Real Madrid in Lisbon next month.

There was little to choose between the teams in last week’s first leg at the Vicente Calderon Stadium, and the goalless draw leaves the balance of the tie delicately poised.

The Blues go into the game aware that a score draw would see Diego Simeone’s side progress on away goals, but having recorded a memorable 2-0 win at Liverpool on Sunday, there is understandably a buoyant mood in the camp.

‘We are going into the game confident and it’s good that we’re playing at home, in front of our fans,’ Ramires tells the official Chelsea website. ‘It’s a big game and we need to play well to make sure we win the match and get through to the final.

‘If you go out on to the pitch thinking a draw is enough it can be very dangerous, so it might be a good thing that we need to win the game.’

Our success in the competition two years ago holds mixed memories for the midfielder. Of course, he was delighted the club were crowned kings of Europe for the first time in our history, but the Brazilian, along with John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic and Raul Meireles, was forced to miss the game after acquiring a booking in the semi-final against Barcelona.

With next month’s final being held at the Estadio da Luz, the home of his former club, Benfica, Ramires has many reasons to help Chelsea overcome a side who are on course to win the Spanish title.

‘I missed the last final, when we won it, but now it’s a completely different situation,’ he says. ‘If we beat Atletico and get through I can play, so I will give everything I have to help my team win the match.

‘I have good memories of the stadium and, if we get through, it will be a dream for me to play the Champions League final at the Estadio da Luz, which is like another home to me.

‘My career in European football started at Benfica so I want to win tonight so I can go back there and play in a massive game. It’s the same for David Luiz, we desperately want to go back there for the final.’

Barcelona v Chelsea

While the 27-year-old sat out the showpiece game in 2012, he more than played his part en route to Munich, teeing up Didier Drogba for the only goal of the game in the first leg of our semi-final, before scoring a goal at the Camp Nou that will live long in the memories of our supporters.

‘We played with 10 men for a lot of the game and we played very well. We stayed focused on the game throughout, I scored one goal and Fernando scored the other, but the overall victory was for the whole team,’ he explains.

‘We showed great character and determination that night and if we can do the same against Atletico I’m sure we can get through to the final.

‘We have fantastic spirit within the squad but this is a semi-final and we need to play, we need to show what we can do in front of our supporters and go out to win the match.

‘The fans are very important; the team is very strong but sometimes, if we are not having a good period during the game, they can give us that bit extra. When you look into the stands and see their faces, and they are trying to encourage us, it really helps us to give our best out on the pitch.’

For a club such as Chelsea, the obvious targets when the season gets underway are to challenge for both the Premier League title and Champions League.

‘We have a Champions League semi-final and we are still in the race for the title, but the most important thing is to focus on each game,’ Ramires says.

‘All we are thinking about at the moment is the game against Atletico, we need to forget about the league. As we have seen this season already, anything is possible so let’s just see what happens.’

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