Di Matteo defends Chelsea's season after Lampard questions team's quality
19:04 GMT, 26 March 2012
Roberto Di Matteo has launched a robust defence of the quality of his Chelsea squad after Frank Lampard claimed he and his team-mates were 'not as good as we used to be'.
Lampard used the club's in-house television channel to deliver a withering assessment of the Blues' season, which sees them in real danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League.
Caretaker manager Di Matteo admitted Chelsea – who are five points adrift of the Barclays Premier League top four – had endured a turbulent campaign.
Must do better: Frank Lampard criticised Chelsea's season so far
'The numbers say that, so there is no point in denying it's been a difficult season,' he said.
'But we have quality in this team and many good players. I still think this Chelsea team is a very good team.'
Speaking ahead of Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg at Benfica, and with Chelsea England's sole remaining European representative, Di Matteo added: 'Chelsea used to be in the top two or top three, at least. So it's been hard for us, domestically.
'But we're in the semi-finals of a domestic cup, and in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.'
Taking a break Chelsea's Didier Drogba (left) has a word with David Luiz during training
Lampard also admitted Chelsea had allowed their intensity level to drop since their historic last-16 comeback to beat Napoli.
Matteo added: 'I have faith in this team. They've shown they can play
at high intensity at a high level, so I'm looking forward to my team
doing that again tomorrow.
'I am positive about the team, but my players are positive too.
'We have great belief in our abilities. That's what we're going to try and express tomorrow.'
Practice makes perfect: Chelsea train ahead of their last-eight clash with Benfica
Di Matteo took exception to claims from Benfica playmaker Nicolas Gaitan that Chelsea's 'anxiety' this season was down to a lack of goals from Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres.
'My response is that we scored 13 goals in the last six games,' he said.
'As long as somebody in my team scores, I don't care.
'We are scoring goals and creating chances. We're averaging more than two a game in the matches I've had in charge.'
Leading from the front: Lampard will attempt to help Chelsea into the semi-finals
He added: 'Everybody seems to have an opinion, and they have that right, but I disagree.
'I believe in my team, my squad, my players.
'I don't think we're a weak team, not at all.
have, still, many games to play in the Premier League to reach fourth,
and two games in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Defence: Roberto Di Matteo claimed his Chelsea side has plenty of quality
'It looked a little gloomier two weeks ago, so we're pleased to be here.
'If we had a few more points in the Premier League, we wouldn't be talking like this.
'It's a very fine line between success and failure.
'This team has all the ability to play a very good game tomorrow night and show the qualities these players have.'