Chelsea aims to keep England’s flag flying
LONDON - The Associated Press
Chelsea defenders had a hard time containing the Napoli attackers in the first leg. REUTERS photoIf Chelsea fails to overturn a two-goal deficit against buoyant Napoli tonight, England will be without a representative in the Champions League quarterfinals for the first time since 1996.
Chelsea was left to fly the flag for the English Premier League after Arsenal was eliminated by AC Milan last week, continuing England’s poor run in the competition.
Yet the chances of Chelsea going further than its London rival look remote considering Napoli is 3-1 up from the first leg.
“We’re focused and ready because we want to continue living this Champions League dream,” Napoli captain Paolo Cannavaro.
Napoli twice took part in the old European Cup during Diego Maradona’s days at the club but never progressed beyond the second round.
Spearheaded by a three-pronged strike force of Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik, which ripped Chelsea’s creaking defense apart in the last leg, the team could go deep this year, however.
“Maradona’s days remain the best in Napoli’s history, but we feel we are nearly on a par with that era and that makes us proud,” said Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri.
“We will have to be balanced because their threat on counterattacking is very good and they have some players that can hurt you,” Chelsea caretaker Roberto Di Matteo said.