AZPILICUETA: STARTING STRONGLY
Cesar Azpilicueta has already tasted success in the French League Cup, and as we prepare to take on Swansea City in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg, he is eager to repeat that feat in England and secure his first trophy as a Chelsea player.
The Spanish right-back, who has featured in all but two of our matches since Rafael Benitez took charge, made his Blues debut in our 6-0 third-round win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, and he was part of the Marseille side which lifted the French version of the trophy last April.
'We played four games to win the tournament, so it's a bit easier winning the French League Cup than winning the French Cup,' he tells the official Chelsea website. 'We played the final against Lyon and won the game 1-0 after extra-time.
'It was a very tight game and we went into it low on confidence because we hadn't won for over a month leading up to the match. We were under a lot of pressure; the fans were desperate for us to win because it was the only positive thing we could achieve.
'There weren't a lot of chances in the game but we managed to score through Brandao, a Brazilian player. It was a difficult moment for the club, so to win the trophy was a special feeling.'
His delight at winning last season's competition, somewhat understandably, was made all the more enjoyable due to the fact he'd missed the previous season's final -which Marseille won against Montpellier - through injury.
He had, however, played his part in that particular success by scoring the winning goal in the quarter-final, as he explains.
'It's not the same when you haven't played,' says Azpilicueta. 'Of course, you feel happy because the team has won, but when you have been out on the pitch yourself you feel much better.
'It wasn't a very good time for me because I'd only joined in the summer and I was still adapting to the style of play. The game was very positive for me, I hadn't been playing particularly well but then I scored a goal against Monaco which was really important for the team and took us to the semi-final, so it brings back special memories.'
With Michael Laudrup's side having the advantage of seeing out our two-legged tie in front of their own supporters, it's imperative we make full use of home advantage tomorrow night.
Swansea, though, as they have proved on more than one occasion, are a team littered with intelligent footballers, none more so than Michu, a player Azpilicueta has admired from afar this season.
'We are playing against a difficult team and we will need to concentrate from the first minute on Wednesday until the last minute of the second leg,' says the 23-year-old.
'Michu has done well and he's one of the top scorers in the Premier League. I watched him last season in Spain but I didn't know too much about him. He's a good player but he's not the only one, they have a lot of strengths so we will need to be at our best.
'To win a trophy with Chelsea would be brilliant. It's very important for the team and the supporters to reach the final. Everybody dreams of playing at Wembley, we know we have a good chance but we need to start well against Swansea.'