Cesar Azpilicueta believes Chelsea’s Europa League victory over Malmo on Thursday night was the right reaction to defeat at Manchester City last weekend.
Azpilicueta captained the Blues to our first away win of 2019, providing a solid advantage going into next week’s second leg at Stamford Bridge, as well as providing the first steps in recovery from Sunday’s heavy defeat to City.
Goals from Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud set us up for what looked like a comfortable win before the hosts pulled one back late on, but we will still be favourites to progress into the last 16. For Azpilicueta, it allows us to put Sunday behind us and look ahead to forthcoming challenges.
Blues bouncing back
‘We were coming from a tough defeat last Sunday, [so] it was important to get back to winning ways with a good result in the first leg,’ the Spaniard said. ‘We could have had a better result and there is work to do next Thursday. To win 2-0 would be better than 2-1 so we have to play a good game next Thursday. We have to be focused, they’re a very good team.
‘We had situations to score more but we didn’t do it so we are in a position where we still have to fight. We were expecting a tough game, they have been preparing for quite a long time and were playing at home, so we knew it would be. We matched them very well, had control of the game apart from a few minutes in the first half where they put us under some pressure, but second half we controlled the game very well and it’s a pity we couldn’t have a better result.’
Eyes on silverware
The Blues are still competing in four competitions, and Azpilicueta, who lifted the Europa League with the Blues in 2013, is keen to do so again.
‘We want to win this competition,’ he said. ‘We started the season fighting for trophies. We want to be in the Champions League next year, there is still a long way to go and every trophy is important. I know how it feels to win it in 2013 and we can do it again but we know there is a long way to go and we will have to fight hard.’
That City feeling
To be successful on that front, results like that on Sunday must not be repeated, and the right-back admitted it had been a difficult few days for the players ahead of the Malmo game.
‘I was very angry, very frustrated,’ Azpilicueta explained. ‘There were some tough days, the feeling was really bad. When you lose in this way, it’s very tough and the only way is to put your head down, work hard and get back to winning ways as quickly as possible. We have to stick together, the fans, the club, and hopefully we can give back some happiness by working hard and getting results.
‘Sunday was unacceptable. We had a reaction today but we need consistency. We have an important game on Monday (against Manchester United in the FA Cup) and we know what it means to everyone. We are the champions of the competition and we will try to get through.’