David Luiz believes the team have shown intelligence and adaptability to come through a difficult moment in the season with plenty still to fight for, including Champions League qualification through either a top-four finish in the Premier League or by winning the Europa League.
The Blues welcome Dynamo Kiev to Stamford Bridge tomorrow for the first leg of our Europa League last-16 tie and David Luiz, who was an unused substitute for our Premier League win at Fulham on Sunday, reports that back-to-back derby victories have improved the mood among the group.
‘We are happy because we have turned around a negative moment into a positive moment,’ said the Brazilian at the pre-match press conference.
‘It wasn’t easy after the defeats but I think we did amazing to come back especially in the [Carabao Cup] final, even though we lost on penalties, and against Tottenham because we put in great performances.
'It’s never easy to have these moments but it’s part of my job as a senior player to motivate everyone and to understand our objectives and goals for the rest of the season.’
Luiz was asked if the players have had to show strength to overcome challenges in recent weeks.
‘Before you are strong, you have to be intelligent and clever to find the solution. Sometimes you find a solution in the first meeting, sometimes you need more than one meeting but to be strong sometimes is to say the truth. I think we did that and that’s why we reversed the negative moment into a positive moment.’
The defender refuted the suggestion our style of play had shifted in recent matches, insisting that some small things may have changed in certain moments but the philosophy stays the same.
‘Our style hasn’t changed. We have just adapted some moments in the game, like the high defensive line and whether to press high or not because in some moments you can stabilise the team and defend for a few minutes to get back some oxygen and then try to play our game. Everyone knows our philosophy is to build from the back, try to control the game and this hasn’t changed.
‘We have to use our memories from the first three months [of the season] when everyone was saying how Chelsea have adapted very well to Maurizio. People have forgotten that already and now everyone says nobody has adapted.
‘It was a decision of the club to change the style of football because for many years people used to say Chelsea were winning but never controlled the game. Now we control the game but sometimes don’t win and everybody says Chelsea controlled the game but didn’t win. In the end it’s about what you really believe and every player believes in the manager’s philosophy and is trying to work 100 per cent to achieve the results.’
Maurizio Sarri spoke beforehand about his thinking regarding the team ahead of the knockout tie and David Luiz confirmed the manager remained consistent in behaviour even in difficult moments.
‘When you lose a game like we did at Man City then nobody is going to be happy and joking around. He’s a great human and great humans don’t change their character just because of the situation. He is still someone with the love and passion for football, good with the people and tries to help everybody.’
Asked whether the team should prioritise the Premier League or Europa League as a means to Champions League qualification, the Brazilian insisted they would fight on both fronts.
‘We have two opportunities so we will try in both until the end. The victory against Tottenham puts us in the fight in the league, four teams going for two places, and we still have the opportunity to win the Europa League so we have two opportunities and we need to fight until the end. We have to be intelligent to understand the moments and this is what we’re trying to do.
‘It’s never easy to win this competition so we have to think step by step. It’s an opportunity for everybody to play and try to do our best. Every player has the opportunity to play in this big competition and to win this title.’