If the Chelsea players who have travelled to Belarus for tomorrow’s Europa League game needed a reminder not to take anything for granted, they had only to watch one of this week’s Champions League matches reckons Mateo Kovacic.
The Croatian was performing media duties in Minsk, where the squad is staying before travelling for about an hour to Borisov for the game. He was asked about Liverpool’s Tuesday night match when the Reds surprisingly lost 2-0 away to Red Star Belgrade, having beaten the Serbians 4-0 at Anfield a fortnight earlier.
This week Chelsea also face the same opposition we hosted in our previous European game, when we won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge, and a victory in this rematch guarantees our place in the knockout stages.
‘I watched the game yesterday,’ said Kovacic when asked about the Liverpool result.
‘They struggled a lot because in Belgrade the atmosphere is tough and it is difficult to play there, like here will be as well. Very difficult, and these are games where you need to concentrate a lot because if you do not then you lose the game, so tomorrow we need to be prepared so what happened yesterday does not happen to us.
‘We are in a perfect mood,’ he reported. ‘We are doing good in our league and we are doing good in all competitions so this team wants to play football, we enjoy it, and every game we have an opportunity to show ourselves, so tomorrow we will be prepared and give our best to win the game.’
The 24-year-old was asked if it bothers him that despite the results some say Chelsea are not playing at full potential and to the standard exhibited by some of our rivals.
‘That is a good thing because we are still unbeaten and we have not played at our highest level,’ he pointed out. ‘We are with the coach only three months and of course it needs time to understand completely and to work on his football. I think we are doing a great job and I am sure in every training and every game we will be better and better.’
Kovacic pointed out that Man City under Pep Guardiola struggled in their first season together before adding, ‘So it is a difficult question. I don’t know, but I think we are doing good because the team is a great talent and we can already do a great season this year.’