Frank Lampard hails the return of Chelsea's work ethic under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo
Frank Lampard has admitted Chelsea lost their work ethic midway through the season but have regained it under new manager Roberto Di Matteo.
Concentration: Lampard was part of a stern Chelsea rearguard that kept Lionel Messi and Barcelona at bay in the Champions League semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The England midfielder praised his team’s “massive” work rate in the win against Barcelona last week and believes a history of near misses in the Champions League will spur them on at the Nou Camp in the second leg on Tuesday.
Lampard said: “Every time you take Barcelona on you know your work rate has to be massive and we have a real work ethic in our team we have regained that.
“Mid-season we lost it. You have to have that against them if you want to do anything and you need a bit of luck too.”
Under previous manager Andre Villas-Boas, Chelsea flirted with failing to qualify from their Champions League group, but have enjoyed a revival under Di Matteo.
And Lampard, who has admitted he was unhappy under Villas-Boas, has praised the job Di Matteo has done.
20 Apr 2012
Asked about the interim manager getting the job on a full-time basis, he said: “That’s a question for the club but he’s done brilliant – no one can deny that when you look at the results and the turnaround, the atmosphere, the confidence running through the club.
“I think the fans have all related to him, being an ex-Chelsea player. One defeat at Man City means we have given ourselves a chance by closing the gap on fourth place, we are in an FA Cup Final and now 90 minutes away from the Champions League Final.”
Chelsea’s history of near misses in the Champions League is a source of inspiration ahead of the second leg of their semi-final with Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.
Didier Drogba’s goal has given them a 1-0 lead going into that game and Lampard believes that memories of their four semi-final defeats, as well as their loss to Manchester United on penalties in the 2008 final, is driving on the experienced players in the squad.
“You use that as a source of inspiration and determination to get to the final,” he said. “We want to win this competition along with a lot of other clubs and the fact that we have been so close in Moscow and semi-finals that didn’t quite work for us, then of course your desire grows every year.”
Chelsea were eliminated by Barcelona on away goals in the 2009 semi-final but did manage to hold Pep Guardiola’s team to a goalless draw in their own stadium, a result that would see Chelsea through this time.
“I think they have improved since 2009, the movement and the passing,” Lampard said. “We worked hard at Stamford Bridge and we had a little bit of luck along the way. We believed that we could get a result and we got a very good result.
“We didn’t play them last year but the standards they set last year and this and the way that they play, for me they are the best club team there has ever been, in my lifetime for sure, because of the all-round team and the quality of the players they have got.
“Having played there, having that experience, will help. They have improved since we last played them, so it is going to be a very, very tough ask. So maybe the experience will help but it will mean nothing on the night if we don’t turn up and put in the shift.
“It is a very tough game, no doubt about it, but I don’t think it is intimidating. I think it is exciting.
“We were looking at going out to Napoli about six weeks ago, the fact that we are in this position to give ourselves a real fighting chance is great.”
Having been disappointed at this stage on so many occasions, Lampard was keen to guard against complacency.