ANCELOTTI: DROGBA PRIMED FOR KNOCKOUT STEP
Posted on: Mon 02 Nov 2009
Carlo Ancelotti will unleash Didier Drogba on the Champions League for the first time this season as tomorrow in Madrid, he looks to secure passage to the knockout stage.
Chelsea coped admirably without our principal centre-forward for the three matches of his suspension, winning them all, but with Drogba in top form, like so many of his team-mates in the current run of wins, the squad can only be stronger for his availability once more.
Ancelotti has drawn a line under the incidents against Barcelona and is only looking ahead.
'I didn't speak with Drogba about last season,' the Italian says. 'I only speak about him being out in the last three games - I said to him to prepare for when he returns, ready to work for the team. Now he is ready to work for the team.'
Ancelotti is also ready to welcome Ashley Cole back into the side after a three-game absence due to a knee injury. With Yury Zhirkov injured and Saturday's stand-in left-back Paulo Ferreira not in the Champions League squad, it's a well-timed return.
'He [Cole] is ready to be able to play tomorrow,' Ancelotti reports. 'Yesterday he trained with us and it has gone well. We want to assess him tonight [in training] but I think he is good to play tomorrow.'
The team sent out onto the Vicente Calderon pitch on Tuesday evening will face an Atlético side with a new coach, although not a new opponent to Chelsea. Quique Sanchez Flores was in charge of Valencia when they played the Blues in the 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons. He is also known to Ancelotti.
'He [Flores] is a good coach, he had good experience at Valencia and I think he can do a good job at Atlético Madrid.
'We have respect for Atlético because they play very good players. [Tomas] Ujfalusi is a good defender, [Sergio] Aguero is a very good striker, [Diego] Forlan is a very good striker and [Maxi] Rodriguez is a very good midfielder. Now is not a good moment for them but they have the quality to go out of this period.'
Praise from the manager for Aguero, linked in the press with a move to Chelsea in the summer, may make ears prick up but Ancelotti qualified his observation on the 21-year-old Argentine.
'For his age he is one of the most important in the world. He is very young, a fantastic striker. He has a lot of quality and every big club looks at this player. But we haven't thought of buying Aguero at this moment.'
For the time being Ancelotti is happy to concentrate on the squad that in the last four games has served him so well.
'In this period we played good football. Sometimes it was not always easy to play good football, but in this moment the team has a good idea of how to continue to maintain this and to go on the pitch and play good football for 90 minutes.
'I am happy because in three months we have improved."
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