Three-time Champions League winner Mateo Kovacic believes the Blues have a great opportunity to show we can compete at the highest level when we meet Bayern Munich tomorrow for the first leg of our round of 16 tie.
Kovacic triumphed in the competition with Real Madrid in 2016, 2017 and 2018, featuring off the bench in a pair of quarter-final knockout games against Bayern in the middle of those successes. Ahead of his first meeting with the German giants as a Chelsea player, he addressed the media at Stamford Bridge to look forward to tomorrow’s clash.
‘Bayern has a whole squad with great players, so it will be difficult tomorrow but that’s normal at this stage in the Champions League,’ noted Kovacic.
‘We have a good team, they do as well, but there is not much difference between us and Bayern.
‘The Champions League is beautiful to play and we can show ourselves again, like we did against Tottenham. It will be tough but we are prepared. Every one of us likes these big games, so I hope we will enjoy the game.’
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Asked what advice he would pass on to his less experienced team-mates, Kovacic said enjoyment is key, adding that matches of this magnitude are the easiest to get up for.
The Croatian revealed there will be tactical work focused on analysing Bayern’s strengths and weaknesses at the team hotel later tonight, and he also underlined the part our supporters can play, hoping for a repeat of the impressive noise created at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. He thinks the strength of the Premier League means Bayern will be more rested than us, but nonetheless expects a good match-up.
‘At Stamford Bridge we had some tough moments this season. Teams come here, stay back and it’s difficult to go through them, but Bayern won’t do that.
‘They will play as we will. It will be an open game which we will enjoy.’
Kovacic was also asked if he thinks he has become a better midfield player since working with Frank Lampard, and after initial modesty admitted he has made some steps forward this year.
‘I don’t know! I think I’m playing a good season under him, but I think I can do even more. I have good communication with him, I am working on my bad sides I have in my game, I am talking to him a lot and analysing my game.
‘I think I’m becoming a better player, but this is normal because I am getting more mature, I am in a good age, and I feel good.’
Read: Lampard on the levels needed in Champions League knockout football