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.