Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech is convinced the club can this season finally end their Champions League hoodoo.
Although the Blues have lost the experience of Joe Cole, Ricardo Carvalho, Deco and Michael Ballack in the summer, Cech is convinced Chelsea can finally go on to claim their ’Holy Grail’ and secure Europe’s top club title.
Chelsea went out to eventual winners Inter Milan in the last-16 stage of the competition last season but the Czech Republic international is more optimistic this time around.
The Blues achieved the domestic League and FA Cup double for the first time in their history last term but the Champions League is the trophy they all want to get their hands on.
A defeat in the 2008 final on penalties at the hands of Manchester United in Moscow has only served to intensify that desire.
The English champions face Slovakian champions MSK Zilina in the Champions League tonight.
“We are coming here in a very good mood,” said Cech. “We have been playing very well recently and we are ready to go in the Champions League.
“Last year we won the Double which is a great achievement but we couldn’t progress in the Champions League, that’s the way it is.
“The previous seasons we have always been in the semi-final and once in the final, but we all believe that this time is going to be the breakthrough. We all believe before every season that we can go all the way and win it.
“I believe that because of the work I can see every day at the training ground, starting with the manager and finishing with all the people working for the club.
“We always have the quality in the team and we have a great team spirit. That is the start and now we need to have the good performances on the pitch. We always have a good start. We know we have what it takes.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti has told unsettled Yury Zhirkov that he will not be allowed to quit Stamford Bridge.
The Russian international defender will make his first start against MSK Zilina after claiming he is set to consider his future in the January transfer window.
Zhirkov, signed for £18.2m from CSKA Moscow last year, was hampered by knee problems during his first season at the club but now wants regular first team football.
But while Zhirkov has already made his frustration clear, Ancelotti was quick to put an end to any further speculation by speaking out on the issue for the first time.
“I don’t need to speak with him about the future,” said Ancelotti. “That is because his future is here with Chelsea. He is a good player. He knows in this club, in the top teams, there is a lot of competition to play and for this reason, he has to improve.
“But I think that he will have the possibility to play a lot of games this year, because we are involved in a lot of competitions. We need to have all the players fit and ready to play.”
Ancelotti has been boosted by captain John Terry’s fitness. The England defender has shaken off the rib injury which threatened to rule him out of their opening game.
But the Italian has made a number of changes from the side that beat West Ham 3-1 on Saturday.
Branislav Ivanovic moves to right-back with Paul Ferreira dropping to the bench to accommodate Alex alongside Terry in defence.
Daniel Sturridge replaces the suspended Didier Drogba in attack while Yossi Benayoun makes his first start in midfield alongside Michael Essien and John Mikel Obi.