Nolito: We deserved to beat Barca

6 December 2012 13:38

Benfica winger Nolito says his side deserved to beat Barcelona in their Champions League clash on Wednesday.

The Portuguese outfit would have secured progress to the knock-out stages had they beaten the Barca, but Celtic’s 2-1 win over Spartak Moscow meant Benfica’s Champions League adventure came to an end.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling as we leave knowing we did everything in our power to win. We deserved victory. But there are times when the ball just won’t go in for you and that was the case here,” Nolito told UEFA.com after the 0-0 draw.

“Honestly, I think that we can be proud because there are few teams who get a draw here and to perform like we did tonight is impressive, against the best team in the world.

“It’s great to play here, in front of these fans, and in the end I’m only sad that we didn’t win the victory we merited.”

Benfica finished third in Group G, and qualify for the Europa League round of 32.

De Bruyne unclear on Chelsea return

6 December 2012 13:33

Kevin De Bruyne says he will not necessarily return to Chelsea at the end of his current loan spell with Werder Bremen.

The 21-year-old playmaker is gaining valuable first-team experience and is expected to rejoin Chelsea at the end of the season.

However, the Belgian stressed his return to Stamford Bridge is by no means definite, adding that he would rather continue to play at a lower level than sit among the Chelsea substitutes.

“According to plan, I will return to Chelsea in the summer. But in football a lot of things change – very fast,” he told Bild.

“That’s like in the standings: One week you’re in 12th place, then sixth place, then down again. You have to cope with new situations quickly. If Chelsea doesn’t want me in the summer, you have to think about other options.

“It’s difficult for me to sit on the bench. I know myself, I can’t stand it. I want to play football. If not with Chelsea, then one level below Chelsea.

“As a footballer you think about the next week, maybe two weeks ahead. But not about something about to happen in six months. I have to prove myself on the pitch. I give my best here and try to help Werder. That’s my job. The rest will follow.”

De Bruyne was quick to point out that he keeps a watchful eye on Chelsea’s form, adding: “I follow the club with interest. Losses annoy me, victories make me happy.”

The former Genk midfielder also believes the appointment of Rafael Benitez has no impact on his own future, with the Spaniard currently only in charge on an interim basis.

“It doesn’t change anything for me,” De Bruyne said. “Last week I had a call with a Chelsea worker. Benitez seems to be a caretaker coach. For how long, it is not clear.”

Neuer enjoys view from the top

6 December 2012 13:21

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was delighted with his team’s 4-1 Champions League win over BATE, which handed them top spot in Group F.

The Bundesliga giants were somewhat surprisingly beaten in the away game against the Belarusians, and Neuer is pleased his side got their revenge at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

“We’ve deservedly finished top of the group. We’re proud and happy,” Neuer told the official Bayern website.

“It was a game we had to win, and it was a minor revenge mission because we lost at their place. We wanted to prove we’re the better team, and we’ve done so.

“I’m annoyed about conceding a goal, but otherwise we all but shut them out.”

Meanwhile, Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri looked ahead to the draw for the round of 16, and made it clear Bayern do not have any preference as to which team they will face next.

“We’ll have to see who we get in the draw,” he said. “To be honest, it doesn’t really matter because any team that has qualified for the last 16 is a good side, so it’s going to be another step up for us.”

The draw for the first knock-out stage takes place in Nyon, Switzerland, on December 20.

Chelsea chase Europa League glory

6 December 2012 11:00

Chelsea defender David Luiz says he will do all he can to try and win the Europa League after his side were dumped out of the Champions League.

Despite hammering Nordsjaelland 6-1 at home, Chelsea failed to qualify for the knockout stages after they finished third in Group E behind Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk.

The result means Chelsea become the first-ever reigning champions to crash out at the initial hurdle.

But Luiz believes that playing in Europe’s second-tier tournament is no punishment as they still retain the chance of winning more silverware.

“I look now at the Europa League like the Champions League. It’s glamorous for me because I don’t have this title, so I want to win it,” Luiz told reporters.

“We won the Champions League last season and this season we went out in the group, it’s a little bit sad but at the end of the day we’re looking at another competition for the future.”

Team-mate Cesar Azpilicueta echoed his thoughts by saying the Europa League still represents a trophy of some stature and pedigree and that the side will do their best to try and win it this term.

“It’s true that it is not the Champions League but it’s a big trophy in Europe. Everyone wants to win and we need to keep our ambition to win this trophy,” he said.

“We have qualified for this tournament so we are going to win games and going to (try to) win the trophy.”

Cech: Chelsea players must accept CL blame

6 December 2012 03:31

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has blamed the club’s players for failing to defend their Champions League crown.

After a 3-0 defeat to Juventus in the last round of fixtures – which saw Roberto Di Matteo replaced by Rafa Benitez – the Blues needed to win against Nordsjaelland and hope Shakhtar Donetsk beat the Italians in their final game.

And despite beating the minnows 6-1 at Stamford Bridge, Juventus won 1-0 in Ukraine to dump the holders out of the competition.

And Cech insists the squad must take the blame rather than either manager.

“Unfortunately if you change your manager, you only change the manager, but the responsibility is on everyone,” he said.

“We are all on the same boat, the manager and the players – the responsibility is the same for everyone. You are a team.”

The Czech Republic keeper feels his side relinquished their trophy after slipping up at home to Juventus in a tight group, which saw them finish level with Donetsk on 10 points, but miss out due to an inferior head-to-head record.

“We had results where we didn’t win and we lost away to Donetsk and to Juventus, but I think the main difference was the draw at home to Juventus where we had gone 2-0 up but we finished the game 2-2,” he said.

“This is where the difference would have been. Unfortunately if you drop too many points in the group it is very difficult. We are out.

“We knew what could happen prior to the game. The damage had been done before. We did what we could. We had a good performance and goals.”

Cech believes Chelsea must now focus on domestic competitions and the Europa League to salvage their season.

“We could only hope and, unfortunately, the other result did not go our way so we are out,” he said.

“Now we need to focus on other competitions.”