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Monday, April 7, 2008


Chelsea left Istanbul wondering how they had managed to lose their Champions League quarter-final first leg to Fenerbahce but they should recover from the setback in Tuesday's home return.

For all the celebrations of the Turkish side's upset 2-1 victory, the odds remain heavily in favour of the London side, who need only a 1-0 success to advance to a semi-final meeting with either Arsenal or Liverpool.

"We played well in Turkey, not just in the first half but in the second half until they scored," manager Avram Grant said.

"Fenerbahce are a good team with a good coach. Zico was a player I liked very much. It will not be easy but I know we can win. We have a lot of quality and can beat anyone.

"I know what I expect and what we can do. I have confidence in my team, never mind whether we are playing Fenerbahce or Barcelona."

Grant rested half his first-choice side for Saturday's 2-0 win at Manchester City and said the squad factor had been important in enabling the club to challenge on two fronts deep into the season.

"During December and January nearly all the big players were out," he said of the likes of Frank Lampard, John Terry, Didier Drogba and Michael Essien.

"This group of players has brought us to the place we are now. They have done a terrific job - so we trust them."

Nevertheless, the second leg of a Champions League quarter-final is not a place for sentiment and the big guns will all be back.

Essien played at right back in the first leg but could give way to Paulo Ferreira while Petr Cech could return from injury in place of Carlo Cudicini.


It is at the other end where Grant's selection will be vital, however, with a likely starting front three of Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Joe Cole with Nicolas Anelka on the bench.

Chelsea have lacked the panache of Premier League title rivals Manchester United in recent weeks but they have developed a nuggety ability to get the job done and, combined with a two-year 10-game home unbeaten run in the competition, they will back themselves to get the result they need.

Fenerbahce's first foray into the last eight of Europe's elite competition has got everyone around the club buzzing.

However, they just about managed to deal with domestic matters when an injury-time winner earned a 2-1 home victory against Kayserispor on Saturday which consolidated their lead at the top of the Turkish first division.

Goalkeeper Volkan Demirel, an important element of the club's success last week and expected to be a busy man at Stamford Bridge, was rested on Saturday, while Edu was also out of action after suffering a blow to the head in the Chelsea game.
Leading goalscorer Semih Senturk scored the winner and could provide Zico with a valuable option, probably off the bench, on Tuesday, should they concede and need to score.

Saturday's match also marked a comeback for Roberto Carlos who has been out of action since the first leg of the last 16 tie with Sevilla, giving Zico a defensive dilemma.

"I don't think he is ready yet, he had some difficulties" he said of his compatriot.

The vast experience of Roberto Carlos and Zico's impressive resume have helped build the confidence of the Turkish side, who are really beginning to believe they deserve their place at the top table.

"Our opponents are quality but they do not scare us," Zico said.

Probable teams:

Chelsea: 23-Carlo Cudicini; 20-Paulo Ferreira, 26-John Terry, 6-Ricardo Carvalho, 3-Ashley Cole; 13-Michael Ballack, 4-Claude Makelele, 8-Frank Lampard, 11-Didier Drogba, 10-Joe Cole, 21-Salomon Kalou.

Fenerbahce: 1-Volkan Demirel; 19-Onder Turaci, 2-Lugano, 36-Edu, 6-Gokcek Vederson; 33-Claudio Maldonado, 15-Mehmet Aurelio, 25-Ugur Boral; 99-Deivid, 9-Mateja Kezman, 20-Alex

Referee: Herbert Fandel (Germany)


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