LAMPARD: STAYING FOCUSED

Posted on: Thu 26 Apr 2012

Heroic, gutsy, defiant. Call it what you want, but Frank Lampard believes our 2-2 draw in the Camp Nou will rank alongside the all-time great European performances by British clubs.

It may have been lacking quick, slick interchanges or expansive attacking play, but ultimately the result was all that mattered, and after achieving it in the most dramatic fashion, Lampard hailed the collective unity and desire of our players.

'Sometimes adversity and tough moments bring you together,' he said. 'We've got so many big personalities throughout the team, we got together at the break, and once we knew we had something to cling on to there was a quiet belief.

'You know what this Barcelona team are like, they could have gone on and beaten us 5-0 or 6-0 because they've got that in them. The goal came at the perfect time because going in at half-time 2-0 down, knowing we still had to score would have been hard, but once we knew we had something to hold on to you saw the desire.

'It was a magnificent night for everyone involved with the club; the players, the staff, the fans who have come out here, the fans at home. English clubs in the past have put in some massive European performances and this is right up there with them.'

However, while Lampard and the majority of his teammates can look forward to competing on the biggest stage in European football in Munich next month, John Terry, Raul Meireles, Ramires and Branislav Ivanovic will have to watch on from the sidelines after being ruled out through suspension.

It's a bitter pill to swallow, particularly as all four players have played an instrumental part in helping us to this stage of the tournament, but while Lampard admitted he felt particularly sorry for our inspirational skipper, he was eager to praise the contribution of Fernando Torres following the Spanish striker's late goal.

'I'm devastated for him [Terry]; he's a huge player for us, the captain and a focal point of the team,' he said. 'We've got a few players missing the final, but John especially, because I know how much it means to him, but he'll be there with us and hopefully we can win it and do it as a group.

'Fernando completely deserves it; his behaviour and professionalism has been impeccable, throughout this season and since he's been here. It's tough as a striker, you do get judged on goals, but big players produce in big moments.

'You kind of knew the outcome tonight and that's what you get from the best. We know what he's got to give us, and what he does give us, and he deserves the confidence boost that he will get. To win the Champions League and be successful, you need your big players to score goals, if he can carry on doing that it will be great for us.'

It's now only one defeat in 15 games across all competitions since Di Matteo was placed in charge, and the confidence is flowing through the team at present.

Having already secured our place in the finals of both the FA Cup and Champions League, immediate attention will now turn towards our league campaign, and the bid to finish in the top four.

Three months ago, the likes of Lampard, Terry and Didier Drogba were being prematurely written off, but they, along with the rest of the squad, have answered the critics in emphatic fashion, and as we stand on the brink of making this one of the most memorable seasons in the club's history, Lampard insisted the interim first team coach deserves a great deal of credit.

'We can enjoy it, but we certainly need to keep focused. We're on a decent run of performances for sure, but the last thing we want to do is lower our standards,' he said. 'There's a determination among the players, people may have watched us against Wigan and Fulham recently and thought we were on our last legs, but you can't knock this team down because we'll keep coming back.

'We've got everything to show, that's what makes us players. That's what makes the likes of Drogba a top player, because he gets written off and keeps coming back scoring goals, and I feel the same. I try to do everything I can to improve, I'm proud of what I did in my career and I don't feel as though I'm on my last legs regardless.

'There's no coincidence in what Robbie's done, he's got players playing, he's created an atmosphere and the camp's very happy. Results don't lie and I can't speak highly enough of him. If we win it, Robbie will deserve it for what he's done for the club.'