In the middle of another busy week for the club, Petr Cech reflects on exiting the Champions League with our heads held high after beating Real Madrid in their own stadium, as well as looking ahead to two FA Cup semi-finals and another trip to Wembley...
I have to start this week’s column with Tuesday night’s game against Real Madrid, because I think it was an unbelievable performance from the team. We had so many chances and we played so well, at the Bernabeu in a historical game for Chelsea Football Club, because we had not played there before.
So given the occasion, at the Bernabeu for the first time, in a Champions League quarter-final and needing to come back from two goals down, the team had an absolutely unbelievable performance. In the end they made a couple of small mistakes and it swung the other way, but football is like that sometimes and those are the fine margins at this level. But it was a great performance.
Obviously we had left ourselves a mountain to climb after the first game, unfortunately, and then with this unbelievable performance we almost managed to go through. I think we would have deserved to go through, but we were a bit unlucky, and now the players have to find a way to get over the disappointment and get ready again, because as a football club we have a huge weekend ahead.
We have two FA Cup semi-finals in one day, just four hours apart – the men’s team’s semi-final against Crystal Palace at Wembley and then as well the women’s team has their semi-final away at Arsenal earlier on Sunday, so it’s a big weekend. Hopefully as a club, by Monday we will have two finals to look forward to.
For the men’s team, we actually are lucky that we play the semi-final on Sunday because, with that huge effort and with the amount of energy and even emotional commitment the players put in on Tuesday night, it can be very tiring, especially when the game goes to extra time and 120 minutes as well.
So it’s good we have this extra day off for the players to recover and be ready because Palace has a whole week to prepare and obviously they will be fresh and ready as it’s a huge occasion for them, being only their second semi-final in nearly 30 years.
It’s definitely not an easy game because for them it’s a historical moment, so they will obviously go there and try to make the most of it and their fans will surely enjoy it. So we need to be prepared and we’ve played on many, many occasions at Wembley, and many FA Cup semi-finals overall, so we know what it takes and hopefully we can reach another final.
If you count the amount of visits we have had to Wembley since the current stadium was built in 2007, it is the 30th occasion for the men and another five for the women. So we have a history with this stadium and hopefully we will have another successful game there and obviously meet the target, which is to reach the final.
Unfortunately we have a points deficit in the league table, so obviously it’s going to be difficult to think about the title because it’s completely out of our hands. We will need to rely on Liverpool and City to have a meltdown.
Of course you play on that front, you play every game and you want to win every game and we want to make sure we are in the Champions League next season, but realistically, after Tuesday’s loss, now the FA Cup remains the only competition we can win, so we would like to achieve that.
We have one trophy left and, of course, after the last year with the success we’ve had we want to end this season on a high.