IVANOVIC: COUNTER THE COUNTER

Posted on: Tue 06 Nov 2012

Branislav Ivanovic hopes the new-look Chelsea can 'grow up as a team' during tomorrow night's Champions League rematch with Shakhtar Donetsk.

Defeat in Ukraine a fortnight ago has ensured the Stamford Bridge meeting between the sides is a crucial one in terms of the Blues' chances of qualification for the knockout stage, but as Ivanovic and his colleagues proved so memorably last year, they can perform well under pressure in this competition.

The defender has also spoken about the number of goals conceded in the last month, and he refuses to use the attacking style of play as an excuse.

'We expect a very difficult game tomorrow and this is one the crucial games for us,' the 28-year-old acknowledges.

'We remember the other game away to Shakhtar and I hope for and expect a completely different game here.

'Everyone knows how it is difficult to play away games in the Champions League but we conceded at the beginning of the match there and lost a bit of our organisation, but we know where we made mistakes and we know how we have to play this time and what we need to stop. We need to stop the counter attacks as Shakhtar are one of the best counter-attack teams.'

Ivanovic was one of the heroes of the second-leg turnaround against Napoli last season, scoring the deciding goal, and he is drawing on the experience of such nights for confidence ahead of this latest challenge.

'These kind of games are very difficult to play because we play under pressure but the positive way you have to think about it is we know how we have to prepare and play this game to win.

'The problem with Chelsea in the Champions League at the moment is maybe the number of points we have, not the way we played because we controlled the game at home to Juventus and were a little unlucky.

'But we have a good chance to win tomorrow - we have to keep going, be strong and to grow up as a team, and we will still have the possibility to qualify if we win tomorrow.'

Ivanovic has been ever-present so far in the group stage and is likely to revert to right-back tomorrow with the return of John Terry. Looking at the team's defending as a whole he says:

'We are going to be successful if we are defensive good as a team. This is part of the game where we can and have to improve as a team because I am sure we can create some chances and score goals against every team. The question is over the defence and we are going to work harder on our defensive line.

'John Terry is very important for our organisation, our defensive line and our control of the game, but we expect a lot of important games coming up so every player is important.'