MIKEL: MORE, MORE, MORE

Posted on: Tue 18 Sep 2012

At some stage in tomorrow evening's encounter at Stamford Bridge, it is certain John Mikel Obi will be in direct contest with Juventus's mobile playmaker Andrea Pirlo.

Though Chelsea will be determined to stamp our authority on the game against the Italian champions, not least because we are starting our defence of our European title at home, anyone who watched Euro 2012 in the summer had it reaffirmed that Pirlo's influence on a game cannot be ignored.

The 33-year-old moved to Turin from Milan in 2011 and last season helped his new side return to the Champions League after a two-year wait.

'Pirlo is a great player and he has been in the game a long time,' said Mikel as looked forward to Wednesday evening's challenge.

'Every day I come in to training and I like learning, even from the younger players, and I am always open to new things. Playing against a legend like Pirlo is going to be great but I also want to win so it is going to be a battle. He wants to win and I want to win but I respect him as a player and hopefully I can learn from him tomorrow.'

What Mikel and his colleagues no longer need to learn is how to triumph in this competition, and although our 25-year-old midfielder who is a key part of Roberto Di Matteo's selection acknowledged that people now look at Chelsea differently due to our win in Munich, there is the same ambition for the competition within the dressing room.

'Being the winners does add pressure to us,' he said, 'but at the same time we are kind of more relaxed because we have won it now, but we don't want to relax because we want to build on the success.

'We have lots of good, senior players to deal with the pressure and we are all big players so we live with pressure every game. It isn't going be easy because Juventus haven't lost for a long time but if we go out there and we are tactically sound then we have a very good chance of winning the game.

'Everyone knew how important it was for us to win the Champions League, but we don't want to stop and hopefully tomorrow is going to be the start of us retaining the title.

'It is many of the same players here and the same manager and we want to go far. Real Madrid and Barcelona are going to be favourites to win it this season but that is what happened last season when everybody wrote us off before we played Barcelona. Those games showed how much we wanted to win the Champions League.

'We worked very hard for what we achieved last season and we have brought in new players that are going to help us in the game. Hopefully this season we can play good football and get to the final again. We are still hungry.'