Caballero: The challenge of the Cup

Willy Caballero kept his first Chelsea clean sheet in the draw at Norwich 10 days ago and he is hopeful whoever plays tonight, another clean sheet can help the team progress in a competition he has long admired.

The goalkeeper’s relationship with the FA Cup dates back to the late 1980s when he was growing up in his native Argentina, and first learned of a tournament that had a truly global reach at a time when football was not as universally broadcast as it is today.

Since moving to England, Caballero has featured in the FA Cup for Manchester City, including at Stamford Bridge in a big 5-1 win for the Blues in February 2016. Tonight, if selected between the posts as he was at Carrow Road, he will walk out as a home player in SW6 for the first time in the revered competition.

‘You know playing this cup is a very good challenge for us,’ Caballero says. ‘We want to get as far as we can. Now we have a game at home and for sure we have to start very well because we know what they can do. 

‘In the first game they played well. Our first half was probably a little bit poor, but in the second half we played more like Chelsea. We were stronger but we couldn’t score. It’s true that if you cannot win, it’s better not to lose.

‘When I was young I heard about this competition because it’s the most historic and important cup competition in England,’ adds Caballero. ‘I started to follow this competition when I began getting into football, and I hope we can go far in it this year.’

Prior to the game in Norfolk the Saturday before last, Caballero’s three Chelsea appearances to date, at home in the Carabao Cup, had ended in victory. They had all, however, been tainted by the concession of a solitary goal in the 90th minute or later.

‘Even when we were winning 5-0 against Nottingham Forest!’ Caballero smiles. ‘Oh man, they were difficult minutes for me.

‘Anyway, the most important for us is always to win. A clean sheet is a big point for us, for the defenders, for every member of the team, for the staff and the boss as well, but the most important is to win and go through.

‘So it was a great satisfaction to get a clean sheet in the first game, but not a complete one. I hope we can win, and if we can win with a clean sheet it would be fantastic.’

Caballero notes the frequency with which we are playing at the moment makes it hard to adapt to different competitions and opposition, but it is a challenge the players relish tackling, sometimes during the opening stages of the contest ahead.

Tonight it is all about staying in the FA Cup, with a home tie against Newcastle awaiting the winners. Caballero knows his counterpart in the Norwich net trying to keep us out again, Angus Gunn, well. The son of Canaries legend Bryan was a team-mate of his for two years at Man City.

‘The way he played gave me a little bit of satisfaction because when we trained, as a keeper and a friend we gave him some advice, and he always listened and tried to do the things we helped him with. 

‘In this moment you realise the other keeper was a team-mate, a friend for the last two years. I felt really good seeing him play. He is at the start of the career and he is really enjoying it, I spoke to him and he is really happy now.’

William Hill Match Preview | Chelsea v Norwich