Before heading out to training at Besiktas Park on Tuesday evening, Cesar Azpilicueta and Pedro addressed the media present in Istanbul, answering questions on the UEFA Super Cup, the potential of Tammy Abraham, and the fact a female referee, Stephanie Frappart, will be in charge.
The experienced Spanish duo were put before journalists for this all-English meeting between the winners of the Champions League and the Europa League. Pedro has been victorious in his three previous Super Cups, with Barcelona, while his compatriot Azpilicueta joined the Blues shortly before our loss to Atletico Madrid in 2012, and was in the squad for the penalty shoot-out reverse against Bayern a year later.
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Azpi reiterated what he had said in the wake of Sunday’s setback at Old Trafford about there being cause for optimism, before explaining what must be done to produce a better outcome in the Turkish capital tomorrow.
‘The only way is to regroup as a team, work hard and learn from the mistakes,’ he said.
‘We know we are facing a strong side, but hopefully we can be at our best and get the result we want tomorrow.
‘This is a trophy, a European trophy, an important trophy. There are not many chances to be here. We have been here with Chelsea the third time in the last eight years. We lost two finals in 2012 and 2013, so hopefully this year we can change that by winning it.
‘It’s always good to be involved in this kind of final at the start of the season. It’s a great way to start and hopefully we can win it tomorrow.’
Pedro echoed that sentiment, explaining what the Blues must do tomorrow to emerge victorious.
‘We need to read well the game, stay compact all the time, and when we create chances we need to score,’ the winger said.
‘We have so much desire to win this trophy. The important thing is the mentality to stay strong and compact and fight together as a team.’
On Frappart leading the match officials team, Pedro spoke of ‘good news’ and proof of the development of the women’s game. It was something his team-mate agreed on.
‘It’s very important but we have to see it as a natural thing,’ stressed Azpi. ‘We have to see the world as a unit. We don’t have to create any kind of difference. I’m happy to move forward and see the world improving.
‘I am very happy with the result in the Women’s World Cup where we could see an amazing attendance in every stadium, and all of us enjoyed a great World Cup. It’s the only way to move forward.’
The final question was about Tammy Abraham, and what Azpilicueta had seen of him that makes him think the 21-year-old striker can be a success at the highest level.
‘I have known Tammy for a long time from when he was in the Academy. I saw him a lot of times training, when he was on loan I saw his improvement.
‘We are talking about a player who has dreamed of being in the first team at Chelsea since he was very young. He has got the chance to be here and he deserves it. He did an amazing job at Aston Villa, and in pre-season he has worked very hard.
‘He got the chance to start the game on Sunday, and he was very close to scoring a goal which is what strikers live for.
‘Now we need to keep encouraging him to do his job, his movements. We know at this age the only way he will go is up. He will keep improving day by day.
‘We know being a Chelsea striker demands a lot, demands your best level every day, but I’m confident and trust him a lot. Hopefully he will give us a lot of success because he has great talent and work-rate.’