CECH: SURE TO BE READY
Chelsea followers need only think back to last season for a reminder of the importance of getting off to a good start and making the most of home games in the Champions League group stage, and ahead of tonight's match against Basel, Petr Cech confirms it to be the case.
Our goalkeeper is beginning his 10th consecutive season in the competition with the Blues and in eight of the previous nine we have progressed to the knockout stage. A year ago we played Juventus at home in the opening match with Oscar scoring twice before the Italians recovered to earn a draw.
We finished the group two points behind them and in third behind Shakhtar Donetsk on goal difference, emphasising the missed opportunity that was the first game. Historically the club has performed well on these occasions - winning eight of out of 11 first group stage matches. The Juventus game plus draws against AC Milan and Rosenborg are the other results, with no defeats.
'When you look back, if we won that game against Juventus having been 2-0 up, the two points would have made a difference,' says Cech, 'but that this the way, there are no ifs and buts, you have to get more points than the other teams and we didn't do so.
'Last season we didn't do well, that was the simple thing. If you do well you obviously qualify, if you don't do well then you can't qualify and those games we played last season in the group stage we were not playing well enough to win games.
'This is why Shakhtar and Juventus ended with more points than us, that was it. You have to make sure you win games at home, you win games away, and the group stage gets tougher and tougher every year because the teams are getting quality players as they want to improve every year, and you need to make sure you are ready.'
There will be full focus by the players on tonight's game as they look to start this European campaign well, but Cech kept an eye last night on his first professional club, Viktoria Plzen, who played Manchester City and lost 3-0.
'It is an exciting time for them and they did well to qualify,' he says.
'For the people there it is great to see a big team from England and from Germany with Bayern Munich coming to their town.
'They played in the Champions League two years ago and they got some points so they qualified for the Europa League, so hopefully this time they can win enough points to carry on in the new year, it will depend on if they get more points than CSKA Moscow.'