Former Liverpool defender Andrea Dossena has said that he is very much looking forward to the class with Chelsea in the last-16 of the Champions League. Napoli have been rewarded with the excellent group stage run with a tie against 2008 finalist Chelsea.

It is expected to be a major contest, in which no team has the advantage. Even though Chelsea have reached the finals a few seasons ago and have also been dominant domestically, they are undergoing a transitional phase under new manager Andre Villas-Boas. Meanwhile, Napoli are focusing their enter attention towards the Champions League.

Hence, Napoli defender Andrea Dossena has said that he is expecting a very tight contest between the two clubs and that he cannot wait for the match to take place. Napoli were extremely brilliant in the group stages, where they were drawn against Bayern Munich, Manchester City, and Villarreal. However, with some impressive results, Napoli qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League ahead of the likes of Manchester City and Villarreal. Even though the match against Chelsea is never going to be easy, Andrea Dossena has admitted that he is looking forward to it because of the stature of the match.

“I played against Chelsea in the quarter-finals for Liverpool. They’re the most difficult team after the Spanish sides. The draw has already been tough on us. We came here to take part and see what happens. The tie represents a great challenge that will see us up against one of the superpowers of Europe in recent years,” Dossena told UEFA’s official website after the draw. Chelsea have themselves confessed that the draw is particularly tough. The two teams will be meeting each other in February. The first leg will be played at Napoli’s home, while the second leg will be in London at Stamford bridge.

Dossena wary of Chelsea

Napoli’s Andrea Dossena believes that drawing Chelsea in the last 16 of the Champions League was the toughest outcome possible except for Barcelona and Real Madrid. With the two Manchester Clubs failing to qualify for the knockout stages, many continental teams consider themselves relatively lucky to have only Chelsea and Arsenal representing England in the competition.

But Dossena, who faced Chelsea several times during his stint at Liverpool is not taking the draw lightly, and thinks that the London club now have the experience and passion to present a serious obstacle to his Italian team. “I played against Chelsea in the quarter-finals for Liverpool. They’re the most difficult team after the Spanish sides,” admits Dossena.

Chelsea have had an indifferent season so far, with many former stars struggling to find their form, and at the moment do not seem likely to mount a serious title challenge this year, sitting 12 points behind leaders Manchester City, with a game in hand. However, this may mean they focus more on the Champions League, and they are still a formidable side, recently ending City’s unbeaten run with a fantastic 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.

Former Napoli manager Alberto Bigon agrees with Dossena, but is confident that the club will put in a competitive performance against the Chelsea. “We came here to take part and see what happens. The tie represents a great challenge that will see us up against one of the superpowers of Europe in recent years,” said Bigon, who was in charge of the Italian club from 1989 to 1991, and still follows the club closely. “We will have to be at our best and are happy because it will be an exceptional tie against a great side and we will face them with great enthusiasm and desire to impress, trying to do again what we did in the group.

Andrea Dossena Biography

Andrea Dossena is a defender for Italy and Liverpool in the English Premier League.  He is a left-footed player who operates best as a left-back, although he can step in and operate as a left-sided centre-back.  He is better-known for his tough tackling than in venturing forwards, but can cross the ball well if he finds himself in a position to do so.  He is a regular member of the Italian national squad.

Andrea was born on 11th September 1981 in Lodi, in the suburbs of Milan.  As a child he supported AC Milan, although he switched allegiances when he was taken on as a youngster by Verona.  He worked his way up through the youth ranks, and impressed the coaches with his tenacity and determination.

Dossena signed a professional contract when he was still learning the game, at 17 years old, but he was only brought into the first-team squad at Verona in 2001, when he was 20.  He was used sparingly at first, as Verona battled to stay in Serie C.  He started to establish himself in the team the following season, and was a first team regular by the time the team won promotion in 2004/05.
Udinese were happy to gamble on this promising youngster, though he still needed match practice at the highest level.  A year on loan at Treviso (Serie B) showed that he was capable of playing with classier players, and he became a first-teamer at Udinese the following season.

Representing Udinese in the Champions League and Serie A as their first choice left-back ensured that he was noticed, both by the Italian national side (Donadoni gave him his debut) and by other top clubs.

Andrea Dossena signed for Liverpool on 4th July 2008, for around £7m.  Big things were expected of the Italian international, with manager Rafa Benitez selling off crowd favourite John Arne Riise because he had such faith in Dossena.

At first Dossena struggled to keep up with the physical demands and pace of the English game, but in time he has changed his game and become better equipped to deal with lightning-quick wingers and counter-attacks.

Dossena first donned the azzurri blue shirt in 2007, in a friendly against South Africa.  Whilst he has been a regular member of the squad since then, he just missed out on representing Italy at Euro 2008, with Zambrotta recovering from injury just in time.  He remains an important member of the squad, and since his move abroad has seen his first-team opportunities increase.