'Lucky' Chelsea ready to make history by defending Champions League… starting with a win against Juve
17:33 GMT, 18 September 2012
John Obi Mikel admitted Chelsea were 'kind of lucky' to win the Champions League but insisted they now had a team capable of historic back-to-back triumphs.
The Blues kick off the defence of their European crown on Wednesday night, with many still pinching themselves at the manner in which they finally ended their agonising wait for club football's biggest prize.
Good enough Fernando Torres and Juan Mata's Chelsea will start their defence against Italian champions Juventus
CHELSEA PROVISIONAL SQUAD
Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Luiz, Cole, Bertrand, Mikel, Romeu, Lampard, Ramires, Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Moses, Piazon, Torres, Sturridge, Turnbull.
Chelsea's astonishing run has led
some to dismiss their triumph as being down to nothing more than blind
luck, with Liverpool legend Graeme Souness declaring: 'Nobody in the
history of football has ever had that much luck.'
Mikel, who was crucial to their
success after playing every minute from the quarter-finals onwards, said: 'When people say that, sometimes it's actually not
'I think we worked very hard for what we achieved last season. But, at the same time, you need luck in everything you do.
'So, yeah, we were kind of lucky but, this season, it's a different story altogether.
'We brought in new players that are going to help us in this campaign.
'So, hopefully this season, we can play good football and win games.
'And hopefully, we can go very, very far in this tournament – hopefully get to the final again.'
Fighting fit: Both John Obi Mikel (left) and John Terry (right) are hoping to win another Champions League
Relaxed: Chelsea players Ashley Cole and Daniel Sturridge (right) shared a joke in Tuesday's training session
Captain Terry joined in on the act
Manager Roberto Di Matteo, whose
appointment as caretaker was the catalyst for a sensational turnaround
in Chelsea's fortunes back in March, shrugged off being branded 'lucky'.
'They said the same about many other managers when they won,' he said.
'You need to deserve everything you
get, and I think we worked very hard for it. We prepared ourselves very
well against our opposition.
'It can't just be that [luck].
'You might need, and you will need, a
portion of luck during a competition like this. But every team has it
to be able to achieve the final target to win it.
'That's a minor part of it.'
However, Roman Abramovich's
80million summer spending spree, and the delay in confirming Di Matteo
as permanent boss, suggests it played a bigger part than that in Chelsea
securing the owner's 'Holy Grail'.
The Russian will expect to see signs of the 'good football' promised by Mikel in Wednesday's opening group game against Juventus.
He will also expect to see the team show the same hunger and desire that was as important as any amount of luck in last season's success.
The UEFA Super Cup two and a half weeks ago provided a wake-up call about what awaits them if they rest on their laurels, with defender Ashley Cole tweeting: 'No fight, desire, passion.'
Mikel said: 'We're still hungry, there are still players in that dressing room that still want to retain this trophy.
'We want to build on it, we don't want to stop, and hopefully we can build on it this season, and tomorrow is the start of it.
'So we have to make sure that we go out there tomorrow and prove ourselves and make sure we want to go far in this tournament.'
He added: 'You're going to look at people and hear that Real Madrid and Barcelona are going to be favourites.
'But I think that's what happened last season when we played Barcelona.
'I think everyone wrote us off even before the game, but we showed how much the Champions League meant to us and how much we wanted to win it.
'I think, still, nothing changes.'
That is not entirely true.
Chelsea now get to call themselves European champions and also make themselves a bigger scalp for their opponents, not least one unbeaten in 42 Serie A matches.
Plotting: Manager Roberto Di Matteo talks tactics on the eve of the clash
Ready for anything: Chelsea are keen to hit the ground running in this season's campaign
Mikel said: 'It does add to pressure on us but, at the same time, we're kind of more relaxed, because we've done it, this club has won it now.
'We're all big players and this is what we live with.
'So we have to go out there tomorrow and make sure that we play well.
'Obviously, it's not going to be easy because Juve haven't lost since last season.'
That is largely thanks to Andrea Pirlo, who was also one of stars of this summer's European Championship.
The Italy star plays in the same position as Mikel, who said: 'Playing against a legend like Pirlo is going to be great.
'But I also want to go in there and win tomorrow. So it's going to be a battle.
'He's a great player but, once we step on to the pitch, it's a different story. He wants to win, I want to win.
'I respect him as a player and hopefully I can learn something from him tomorrow.'
Stage is set: Chelsea will host Juventus at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night
All smiles: David Luiz is hoping to partner Terry in the centre of defence