RAMIRES: BEATING BENFICA
Ramires insists nobody in the dressing room is taking anything for granted as we prepare for Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg against his former side Benfica.
The Brazilian was a key figure in last week's 1-0 in Lisbon that has given us an advantage to take into the deciding game at Stamford Bridge, but having spent a year on their books before signing for Chelsea, Ramires knows better than anyone what our Portuguese opponents are capable of.
'It will certainly be a difficult game,' Ramires confirmed. 'We have an important advantage from the first game, obviously, but we have 90 tough minutes in front of us and we are going to face a serious challenge tomorrow.
'When facing Benfica you know they will come out motivated and do everything to win. Despite the disadvantage from the first game I am sure they will do everything to stop us.'
With Barcelona and AC Milan playing on Tuesday evening at the Camp Nou, potential opponents for the semi-finals will be known by the time the players take to the pitch, but Ramires knows we must focus on the task at hand.
'There is a lot of talk already about Barcelona but we as players don't look that far ahead,' the 25-year-old said. 'We are concentrating on every single game as it comes. We respect Benfica a great deal, it is a massive club with a lot of tradition so there will be no talk of Barcelona. I am sure there will be plenty of talk afterwards if we progress but for now the focus is solely on this game.
'Everyone has high expectations of us but we go out there to play for the fans and we will try to remain in the competition as long as possible.'
The midfielder believes Roberto Di Matteo has brought belief back to his players after a poor run of form under Andre Villas-Boas, and it is this confidence that has spurred the side on with improved performances and results in recent weeks.
'We went through a tough phase obviously and we took strength from this, and found new confidence after the change,' he explained. 'Roberto has instilled great confidence in us and we have begun to realise again we are a great team with great players, and have built from the first victory going from strength to strength.'
A place in Europe's last four will only help matters further, but for Ramires, victory on Wednesday will be of special significance, given his former ties.
'I have never previously had an opportunity to play against a team I played for before,' he revealed. 'It was a strange feeling last week and the Benfica fans showed a lot of affection during the last game.
'Today though I am a Chelsea player and I hope tomorrow I can do everything I can to help Chelsea beat Benfica.'
Hospitality tickets are still available for Wednesday's match. Please call 0871 984 1955 for details and to purchase.