It doesn’t come much sweeter for a Spaniard than by beating Real Madrid to reach the Champions League final but, for Cesar Azpilicueta at least, there is still much work ahead.
Our Spanish defender led by example as the Blues brushed aside Real Madrid 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening, with goals from Timo Werner and Mason Mount securing a 3-1 aggregate win and setting up an all-English Champions League final against Manchester City in Istanbul at the end of this month.
It represented a third La Liga side defeated by Chelsea in this season’s competition and while Azpi couldn’t hide his delight at reaching the final with the Blues, he insists there is still plenty of focus and work ahead.
‘It was a massive performance from the team,’ explained Cesar. ‘We knew were up against a tough opponent but we performed very well and we actually could have scored a few more goals.
‘In this Champions League campaign, we have played three Spanish teams so of course for me it is a good feeling.
‘The most important thing though is that we are in the final and we still have one more step. We want to go to the final and try to win it, of course.’
There was a real mix of youth and experience in the Chelsea side selected by Thomas Tuchel, with the skipper and another elder statesman in Thiago Silva surrounded by the youthful exuberance of the likes of Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner.
It was the perfect team performance from start to finish and our No.28 was quick to point out that the entire squad, plus the backroom staff, have all played a part in our success to date.
‘We have a fantastic squad and staff around the club,’ added Cesar. ‘Everybody pushes hard in training and it creates an atmosphere to be together and fight for every ball from the start.
‘For me, this is massive to create a strong group and we have plenty of things to fight for ahead of us in the massive weeks coming up.’
Coincidentally, we face our Champions League final opponents in the Premier League on Saturday and Azpilicueta believes we must show belief to beat City both this weekend and in three weeks’ time.
‘It’s the Champions League final and anything can happen,’ the right-back explained. ‘We know that Manchester City are a strong team, we have played them a lot of times but it’s a Champions League final and we go with everything.
‘We believe in ourselves, we know we have to work hard but we are ready for the challenge.’