Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka has called on his team-mates to prove that they are good enough to win the Champions League by beating Manchester United in their upcoming showdown.
Chelsea edged one step closer to May’s Wembley final by beating FC Copenhagen in the last 16.
Their reward for victory over the Danish minnows was a tough tie against Barclays Premier League title rivals United.
Anelka admits the draw could not have been much harder for Chelsea, but concedes that they must beat the best sides on the continent to become European champions for the first time in their history.
“We know them (United) but I don’t think it’s a good draw because they are a good team and difficult to beat with a lot of quality players,” Anelka told Chelsea’s website.
“But, if you want to win the Champions League you have to beat good teams.“
Chelsea overcame United in a controversial clash at Stamford Bridge last month, and Anelka believes fans can expect a similar type of game in Wednesday’s first match and the return leg six days later.
“These two games with Manchester United will feel like Premier League games, we have already played them in so many games so these will be the same, and we will just have to see what happens,“ said the former Manchester City and Arsenal man, who lifted the trophy with Real Madrid 11 years ago.
Anelka has been resting over the last week while most of Chelsea’s squad have been on international duty.
The 32-year-old retired from international football last summer after his role in the mutiny against former France head coach Raymond Domenech saw him receive an 18-match ban.
The ban is due to come to an end just before next summer’s Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and the Ukraine but Anelka insists he will not end his exile.
“I don’t miss it, I am glad to be out of it (international football),” Anelka added.
“Of course it can help to not play, you play less games so it is perfect to be off and to think about something else for one or two weeks then come back fresh to the club.
“You get some family life, go to Paris, wherever you want with your family, it is perfect, but I used to be like this when I played for City and in the beginning at Bolton, so I know this situation and I like it. I really don’t think about the national team or playing games.”
Chelsea head to Stoke tomorrow hoping to maintain their chances of lifting the title.
Yossi Benayoun could play his first game for the Blues in six months after making his comeback from an Achilles injury in Israel’s win over Georgia on Tuesday.