DAVID LUIZ: MOVING FORWARD

Posted on: Fri 30 Mar 2012

Before moving to Chelsea, David Luiz enjoyed a four-year spell at Benfica which saw him become one of the most sought after defenders in Europe, but as the Brazilian prepares for an emotional return to the club where he made his name, securing a Champions League semi-final for his current employers remains his sole focus.

The flamboyant 24-year-old joined the Portuguese club in 2007, and became an integral part of a side which lifted their first domestic title in five years at the end of the 2009/10 campaign, before making the switch to Stamford Bridge in January 2011, and while he will be pleased to see some familiar faces tomorrow night, winning, as he admitted, is all that matters.

'To be back to a team where I was received so well, I'm happy to be back and I want to play a good match tomorrow,' he insisted.

'I had a good run from the first day I was presented as a Benfica player, we will be mates until the referee starts the match but then their players will become adversaries, and it will be a fight to the end.'

Buoyed by that dramatic comeback against Napoli in the previous round, the Blues will head into the game in a positive frame of mind, but a Benfica side who topped a qualifying group including Manchester United and are unbeaten in their previous 10 European matches at the Estadio da Luz, will undoubtedly provide the toughest of tests.

By the same token, we are yet to record a win on the road in the Champions League since a 2-0 win in Copenhagen 13 months ago, and while scoring away from home in this season's competition hasn't been an issue, holding on to those leads has proved more difficult, but David Luiz believes our experience in the latter stages of the tournament could prove crucial.

'It's positive to have more experience, the past is the past and it's not important,' he said. 'We are two good teams against each other and there is pressure for both sets of supporters, their fans are very passionate, especially at home, but we have the experience to deal with that.

'Benfica have different players but the philosophy is the same, players continue to change but the quality is definitely still there, they were champions when I was here but they still have very good players.'

The Brazilian international had one of his best games in a blue shirt against Napoli a fortnight ago, making a number of timely interventions and last-ditch tackles as the Italian side poured forward in search of the all-important away goal that would have seen us eliminated.

Earlier in the season, his performances came under heavy scrutiny from sections of the media, but a sustained run in the side has enabled him to flourish, and the player himself believes his decision to swap Lisbon for London has ultimately been justified.

'There has been some evolution, I'm now older and wiser,' he admitted. 'I have more experience and more responsibility now, everybody knows I love and respect Benfica, but I won't make it easy for them and I want to win the match.'