The Europa League was the first trophy Cesar Azpilicueta won at Chelsea and the defender hopes we can take a big step towards repeating that achievement when we meet Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of our semi-final tomorrow.
Azpilicueta has enjoyed a trophy-laden six years at Stamford Bridge include success in England’s domestic competitions, the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup.
However he first lifted silverware as a Blue when we defeated Benfica in the 2013 Europa League final in Amsterdam, and now he is determined to add another winners’ medal to his collection.
‘The first trophy is something special,’ he said at a media conference in Germany tonight.
‘I have great memories from it. The Europa League is the second biggest competition in Europe. Here in Chelsea every season we start and we go for every trophy.
‘Through the year you can be out of some of them, but at the moment we are in the semi-final of the Europa League. It’s a long way to get here and many good teams are not in the last four. Winning a trophy is a priority. It’s our aim. Hopefully we can be in Baku on May 29.
‘It’s our moment to step up and try to win it for the second time in our history.’
Azpilicueta noted that while our away form in the Premier League has not been good in 2019 we have fared much better on the road in Europe, winning each of our three trips this calendar year and conceding just one goal in the process.
The Spaniard acknowledged the travel has affected us at times but said we must be ready from the get-go tomorrow night against a side he has regularly watched in recent months.
‘Eintracht dominated the group stage in the Europa League. They knocked out Shakhtar, Inter, Benfica.
‘They play with very high intensity, with high pressure, and they put a lot of bodies in the box in the final third, so we expect a tough game from the beginning. We have to match this intensity. We know for both teams when you are so close to the final every ball is very important.
‘Especially when you play away from home you have to be ready from the beginning. Both teams are very close to the final. It’s something we have been working towards since September. Hopefully we can have a good game tomorrow.’
Azpilicueta stressed he is ready to step in at centre-back if required following the injuries to Toni Rudiger and Gary Cahill, and playing across the back four has been an enjoyable aspect of his time in west London.
Azpi also had words for his compatriot Iker Casillas, who suffered a heart attack in Porto earlier on Wednesday.
‘I want to wish him a good recovery. The news is quite tough. We have been told he has been doing well and he is recovering.
‘From everyone at Chelsea we want to wish him a good recovery and we hope to see him very soon on the pitch.’