Tag Archives: feelgood

Laura Williamson: Farewell to Plucky Brit syndrome, and good riddance

Farewell to the 'Plucky Brit' syndrome… and good riddance

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UPDATED:

23:22 GMT, 23 December 2012

With all the hoo-hah over the Olympic and Paralympic sports that missed out on funding for the next four years, one very significant detail seems to have been overlooked.

As UK Sport announced a record 347million investment in British sport last week, they also revealed an ambitious target to beat 2012’s haul of 65 Olympic medals and 120 Paralympic medals in Rio de Janeiro.

We have just experienced the most incredible year of British sport and now we want to get even better That should surely be celebrated.

Golden year: UK Sport a investing record amount into sporting excellence in Britain in 2013

Golden year: UK Sport a investing record amount into sporting excellence in Britain in 2013

More from Laura Williamson…

Laura Williamson: Pity 2012 feelgood factor has faded so quickly
16/12/12

Laura Williamson: Wake up Gary, or Match of the Day's old boys' club may close for good
09/12/12

Laura Williamson: Booth and Co aim to end golf's old school traditions
02/12/12

Laura Williamson: I won't be fighting in Rio but you could as taekwondo seeks new stars
25/11/12

Laura Williamson: Dangerous message that strong isn't sexy for women
18/11/12

Laura Williamson: As Sportsmail enters the ring with an Olympic star, Jonas shows being a warrior woman is worth fighting for
11/11/12

Laura Williamson: Kids have no chance when vile chants are treated like nursery rhymes
06/11/12

Laura Williamson: Wit is the only way to counter football's vile chants
04/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

So too should UK Sport’s ‘no compromise’ approach to funding the British Olympic and Paralympic team. The organisation will only support genuine medal prospects, meaning some Olympians and Paralympians have been cast out in the cold.

The basketball, handball and wrestling squads, for example, which will not receive a penny unless they can show they’ve bucked their ideas up at their annual review.

Harsh Yes, certainly. But fair Definitely. This is sport we are talking about here. It isn’t reality television. It is brutal and it hurts like hell if you lose. That is why it’s such a delicious feeling to win.

And British sport is about winning these days, after all.

We’re being fanciful if we think we still exist in a sporting utopia in which every contest ends with the schmaltzy climax of a Disney film and the nice guys always get the gold. Elite level sport is not a pastime, it’s a profession. It’s about British Cycling’s much-applauded ‘marginal gains’ and a pragmatic, analytical pursuit of success.

In the past it has too often seemed our athletes have achieved success in spite of the system, but now it is because of it.

I feel for the people who missed out. I know how hard the women’s indoor volleyball team have worked and seen the strides the men’s basketball team have made.

I was upset when I realised I had broken the news to a goalball athlete on Twitter that the men’s team would not be receiving any future funding.

There was a long conversation with the father of a table tennis player who felt badly let down and confused as to the next step, having spent the last decade looking for bargain budget flights to far-flung corners of Europe so his son could try to win peanuts in prize money.

These athletes have every right to feel slighted and disappointed; to wonder about the next step in their careers. But they should not be surprised.

Benefits: British Cycling's approach to success has been a shining example to other sports

Benefits: British Cycling's approach to success has been a shining example to other sports

Their governing bodies have let them down if they thought it would be any other way.

Many of them experienced London 2012 purely because we were the host nation and their chances of making it to Rio are remote, to put it kindly.

We were utterly abysmal at most team
disciplines at London 2012, don’t forget. Why should UK Sport divert
cash from the sports that did deliver to allow people to spend another
four years chasing an impossible dream

It is far better to cut our losses and
concentrate on helping the next generation to build an Olympic
legacy, hence the 493m of money that Sport England will invest in
grassroots sport over the next four years.

Olympic table tennis, for instance,
had all of its elite level funding cut on Tuesday, yet its governing
body still claimed the ‘future for English table tennis is assured’
after a sport played regularly by almost 100,000 people received a 20
per cent increase in support for building participation.

Be inspired: Luol Deng is the stand-out star in a Team GB basketball team soundly beaten at the Games

Be inspired: Luol Deng is the stand-out star in a Team GB basketball team soundly beaten at the Games

This is not about class, as some have tried to make out. Cutting basketball’s elite level funding for the next four years will make little difference to the inner city kids who are basketball’s primary target audience. There is still potentially 6.75m of funding to come from Sport England for their benefit, including 1.54m to support young, emerging talent.

I realise these future stars need to see a pathway to success and have role models to follow, but I fail to see how watching a British basketball team getting regularly hammered would have more influence than a teenager seeing Luol Deng do his thing for the Chicago Bulls.

Neither do I automatically buy the claims about all the ‘sacrifices’ people made to reach London 2012, either. They could have been working from nine until five in a dead-end job they hated instead of pursuing their dream of being a full-time athlete.

The ‘Plucky Brit’ – eternally hopeless but emotionally heart-warming – has, thankfully, been consigned to history.

The UK Sport formula works. Elite level British sport is no longer about making up the numbers and celebrating getting to finals. We want to be on top of the podium now, thank you very much. It may be a brutal approach but it is also brilliant.

Transition: Gary Neville showed Laura behind the scenes at Monday Night Football

Transition: Gary Neville showed Laura behind the scenes at Monday Night Football

…AND THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING THIS WEEK

Spent the day behind the scenes at Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football. Interested to see Gary Neville agonise over whether to call Reading 'naive' during their 5-2 defeat by Arsenal. He thought it reflected badly on the manager, Brian McDermott, which was not his intention, deciding to highlight Nicky Shorey's 'poor' game instead.

Small steps

At UK Sport's funding announcement on Tuesday there were three female executives alongside Sports Minister Hugh Robertson. On the same day, UK Athletics announced Jenni Banks as their new wheelchair racing coach, reporting to Paralympics head coach Paula Dunn. Small steps…

Taking the mic
Sitting behind the dug-out during Tottenham’s dull draw against Stoke I noticed fourth official Stuart Attwell taking off his microphone when speaking to the managers. Did he not want the man in the middle to hear

Performance of the week

Double Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin and her horse Valegro ended a remarkable 2012 with dressage victory at the World Cup freestyle event at London’s Olympia. They scored 87.975 per cent, which is rather good.

Beat Rory McIlroy and we"ll win the Ryder Cup, says American captain Paul Azinger

Beat McIlroy and we'll win the Ryder Cup, claims American captain Azinger

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UPDATED:

21:44 GMT, 20 September 2012

As the only American Ryder Cup captain with a win to his name this century, Paul Azinger's views carry special weight.

And he has no doubt about what his country needs to do to win the cup back in Chicago next week.

Behind you: Tiger Woods keeps a close eye on Rory McIlroy in Atlanta

Behind you: Tiger Woods keeps a close eye on Rory McIlroy in Atlanta

'The key to this Ryder Cup is Rory McIlroy,' said Azinger. 'Just like we used to do with Seve, and Europe has done with Tiger, the US has to find Rory.

'Figure out what slot he is in, either when he is teaming up with Graeme McDowell or in singles, and put our hottest players against him. And if they are not our biggest names, all the better because then they will have everything to gain. If we can beat Rory, we win this Ryder Cup.'

It is easy to see where Azinger is coming from. Cast your mind back to the 2004 Ryder Cup, for example, where US captain Hal Sutton paired Tiger Woods with Phil Mickelson in the opening match.

Talk about putting a target on players' backs. Their opponents Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington could scarcely believe their luck.

When they claimed a winning point, Sutton went into shock, and Europe were jubilant. It set the tone for the entire contest, one Europe went on to win by a record margin. Clearly, Azinger believes a similar thing could happen if McIlroy were defeated at Medinah.

Feeling it: McIlroy struggled early on in Atlanta

Feeling it: McIlroy struggled early on in Atlanta

The trouble with this theory is it
presupposes Europe's characters would simply crumble under the shock of
McIlroy losing, which is a stretch under normal circumstances but highly
fanciful given the form they are in.

The feelgood factor established over the past six weeks extended into the first round of the Tour Championship yesterday, as Englishman Justin Rose chipped in at the 14th on his way to a fabulous 66 and the early lead. Rose finished in the grand manner too, holing a 50ft birdie putt at the 18th.

A lot of things would have to go Rose's way for him to win the $10million FedEx Cup bonus prize on offer here, but at least he made the perfect start.

Rose was part of 14 groups who headed out on to the course in what felt like a series of warm-up bouts.

Finally we got to the main event, as Tiger Woods and McIlroy himself marched to the first tee. Early on, there were obvious signs this wasn't going to be quite the chummy affair we have become accustomed to in recent outings.

Success: Paul Azinger captained America to 2008 triumph

Success: Paul Azinger captained America to 2008 triumph

Let's not forget there's a $7m difference between first and second place in the FedEx bonus race. It doesn't matter if you've got an estimated 25m in the bank like Rory, or many times that if you're Woods. Playing for such astronomical sums is going to get your attention.

Woods began like a man determined to prove that the idea he could be intimidated by McIlroy – Greg Norman's belief – is ridiculous. He should have birdied the first and did birdie the second and third.

McIlroy, by contrast, began like someone who has just had the biggest cheque he has ever seen dangled right under his nose.

A pulled iron shot and a clunked chip for an untidy bogey at the first was the start of a man feeling a little tight, and another bogey looked on the cards when he tweaked his tee shot into a bunker at the short second.

A perfect recovery, however, rescued a par.

At the third, with Woods a tap-in distance away, McIlroy was looking over a 20ft birdie putt knowing that if he missed it he would be three strokes behind after three holes.

But here was another indication of how much his putting has improved, as he died the ball beautifully into the hole. After 10 holes Woods was on two under par, two off the lead – and two ahead of McIlroy.

Brendan Rodgers has Jose Mourinho to thank after completing Nuri Sahin deal

Liverpool boss Rodgers has mentor Mourinho to thank after completing Sahin deal

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UPDATED:

20:36 GMT, 25 August 2012

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has
admitted turning to his mentor Jose Mourinho to try to bring the
feelgood factor back to Anfield.

Rodgers, whose new side were thumped
3-0 at West Brom last weekend, will have new loan signing Nuri Sahin
from Real Madrid watching from the stands against Manchester City,
with the 23-year-old Turkish international brought in to add a touch of
fantasy football and quality to misfiring Liverpool.

Rodgers pipped Arsenal for Sahin’s
signature after discussions with Real Madrid boss Mourinho, who was the
Chelsea manager when Rodgers began his coaching career there.

Star quality: Brendan Rodgers is sure Sahin will improve his side

Star quality: Brendan Rodgers is sure Sahin will improve his side

‘Jose has been fantastic in talking about his qualities and strengths,’ said Rodgers. ‘It’s a great opportunity to bring in a top technician.

‘For me it’s important players can technically participate in the game. I’ve got some outstanding players here but this guy has got experience as well for a young player of 23.

‘He’s a master technician and that’s something important, that I’ve got players who can cope with the game.’

Sahin, who has 31 caps and was voted the Bundesliga Player of the Year with Dortmund two seasons ago, turned down the chance of Champions League football at Arsenal to be at Liverpool.

‘When we knew of his availability, our task was to wrestle away the momentum of him joining Arsenal,’ added Rodgers.

‘As you can imagine that’s very difficult because Arsenal are a wonderful club and play a style of football suited to his qualities. But we’ve been able to persuade him to come here. He’s a very clever guy, he’s done a lot of homework on myself as a manager and the club itself.

‘I promise players three things. The first is my communication. I won’t bluff players, I’ll be totally honest and open with them.

‘The second is that they’ll become better, that the quality of work will improve them as players. And thirdly I promise ambition. I want to be the very very best I possibly can. I grew from nothing into something through sheer ambition and work and determination.’

Sahin’s arrival will hasten the departure of Jay Spearing to Bolton on loan while Scotland international Charlie Adam is also available at 5million though the player has said he wants to stay and fight for his place at Anfield.

Luis Suarez and Steve Gerrard will return to face City after missing the midweek Europa League win against Hearts.

Ironically, City manager Roberto Mancini once tried to appoint Rodgers as his No2 when he was out the game having been sacked by Reading.

‘I got a call and there was a possibility about going to Manchester City and flew to Milan to meet Roberto,’ said Rodgers.

‘They were excited about what was happening there but then all of a sudden I got the opportunity to go to Swansea so to be the No1. Irrespective of money and whatever contract, being the manager at a great club like Swansea was always going to be too good to turn down.’

London 2012 Olympics: Great Britain close in on record medal haul

Britain set to party as Team GB close in on record haul as medals keep coming

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UPDATED:

00:44 GMT, 7 August 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

Team GB can record their biggest gold medal haul for more than 100 years on Tuesday.

Just two more victories will take Britain past the 19 golds they won in Beijing four years ago.

And plans were confirmed last night for a celebration parade in London on September 10 to hail the athletes who have given the country the feelgood factor.

Golden touch: Jason Kenny celebrates with his second gold medal of the Games

Golden touch: Jason Kenny celebrates with his second gold medal of the Games

It was another triumphant day yesterday with cyclist Jason Kenny in the individual sprint and 54-year-old Nick Skelton, together with the rest of his showjumping team, keeping up the gold rush.

On Tuesday, it’s the turn of cycling stars Vicky Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy to head the cast going for glory as Britain carries on going Games crazy — more than 20 million watched on television as Usain Bolt won Sunday night’s 100 metres final.

On Monday Kenny — selected ahead of reigning champion Hoy — added victory in the individual sprint to the team title by seeing off world champion Gregory Bauge. It installed the 24-year-old as Britain’s first double gold medallist of London 2012, while making it five golds and a bronze for the home nation in the Velodrome.

Thumbs up: Chris Hoy is going for gold on Tuesday

Thumbs up: Chris Hoy is going for gold on Tuesday

Kenny said: ‘It’s amazing. I hadn’t thought about it until the last lap, then it dawned on me. It was quite the battle with Chris (Hoy) to get here. I was really pleased. I did it for the team.’

Earlier, Britain captured their first Olympic showjumping gold medal for 60 years after a jump-off against Holland. Skelton, Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Peter Charles held their nerve. ‘I’ve waited 54 years so it was a long time coming,’ said Skelton.

Britain are third in the medal table, seven golds ahead of nearest rivals South Korea and, with 11 silver and 11 bronze, 18 in front in total.

Golden chance: Victoria Pendleton will go for gold in the women's sprint

Golden chance: Victoria Pendleton will go for gold in the women's sprint

They are on course for their best finish since 1920. On Tuesday world champion Alistair Brownlee and younger brother Jonathan will go in the triathlon while in the Velodrome, Pendleton could win her second gold in the sprint, Laura Trott has chances in the omnium and Hoy will defend his keirin title.

But one unhappy British cyclist is Wendy Houvenaghel.

She has been an integral member of the squad with Joanna Rowsell, Dani King and Laura Trott and was expected to have at least one ride in the team pursuit. But despite Rowsell struggling with illness before Saturday’s two rides, which yielded gold and a world record, Houvenaghel was left out.

She said: ‘I feel particularly aggrieved that the head coach (Shane Sutton) put in a rider who wasn’t 100 per cent well twice. Thankfully the girls did win but perhaps had I been allowed to do my job that record could have been faster. I’ve been treated shabbily.’

London 2012 Olympics: Stuart Pearce delighted with Team GB win against Uruguay

Pearce delighted as his team caps fantastic Olympic day for Britain

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UPDATED:

22:43 GMT, 1 August 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

Great Britain coach Stuart Pearce felt his side's 1-0 Millennium Stadium victory over Uruguay had capped a golden day for British sport.

The host nation won their first gold medals of the Games on Wednesday as Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins triumphed in the men's time trial and rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning came out on top in the women's pair final.

Pearce's side ensured the 'feelgood factor' continued as Daniel Sturridge's first-half strike saw GB top Group A and set-up a quarter-final meeting with South Korea in Cardiff on Saturday evening.

That'll do it: Daniel Sturridge scored the only goal of the game

That'll do it: Daniel Sturridge scored the only goal of the game

Pearce said: 'Today has been a fantastic day with Wiggins winning gold and that spreads right across Great Britain, it brings a feelgood factor to the Olympics and we are glad to have played our part this evening and got the result to get out of the group.

'We didn't watch it (the rowing or the cycling) together as we had to prepare for this game but I fully expect that most of the players, and a lot of the staff, are watching other events.

'We all feel part of it after our experience in the Olympic village. We all feel part of what's going on.

'I also have to mention the women's team, them winning yesterday gave us a real good lift by beating Brazil.

'They have been playing a day before us and everytime they have got a good result we are trying to emulate them, which is fantastic.

'We are all under the same umbrella and we all want each other to do well.'

Happy: Stuart Pearce was glad to contribute to a great day

Happy: Stuart Pearce was glad to contribute to a great day

Pearce also praised the support of the 64,000-strong crowd in Cardiff.

There had been fears that the national anthem would not be well received in Cardiff, but there were no dissenting voices as God Save the Queen was delivered with gusto.

Pearce said: 'If we wind the clock back three or four weeks people were saying we would get a negative reaction in Cardiff but we have not seen any of that.'

Pearce's side have shown steady signs of improvement as the tournament has progressed, and they continued to do so here.

The midfield triumvirate of Tom Cleverley, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen proving particularly impressive as Ryan Giggs was rested, while captain for the night Craig Bellamy was a nuisance throughout to the Uruguay defence.

And Pearce believes his squad are building nicely as they enter the knockout stages.

Frustrated: Luis Suarez and Uruguay have been dumped out

Frustrated: Luis Suarez and Uruguay have been dumped out

'I thought all 18 of the players were fantastic, and it excites me to stay in the competition to play at least one more game with this group.

'We are improving game by game, our fitness levels are improving, our understanding is improving and some of the passing, especially in the first half, was outstanding.'

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez refused to be critical of his players, as they became the second fancied side to exit the competition along with World and European champions Spain.

He said: 'We were looking for something we didn't get from this game. We worked really hard and created chances even though GB in the last 15 minutes of the first half were better and had a lot of possession.

'We fought until the end and we have nothing to complain to the players about because they gave their all.'

Euro 2012: Will spirit be enough for Roy Hodgson"s England?

Will spirit be enough for Hodgson's new look England to be successful

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UPDATED:

22:19 GMT, 16 June 2012

It was the moment that encapsulated all that is good and bad about English football and this team in particular. The clock was approaching 92 minutes, with England desperately needing to run down two more minutes of injury-time to preserve their 3-2 lead and Theo Walcott breaking down the right.

Where did he head The corner flag perhaps No chance. On and on he sprinted before delivering an excellent cross into the penalty area. And who was there to meet it, charging forward despite the seven miles of running he had already contributed to England’s cause Of course, it was the captain, Steven Gerrard.

No matter that he has to do it all again in three days’ time against Ukraine. No matter that 18-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was actually in a better position to finish and had fresher, younger legs.

The Roy wonder: Hodgson has transformed Englands fortunes in the space of less than a month

The Roy wonder: Hodgson has transformed Englands fortunes in the space of less than a month

Gerrard was desperate to score the fourth goal. And for that you have to credit England manager Roy Hodgson, even if his pragmatic self might have been aghast at the lack of shape and discipline and the abysmal defending his side has showed in the second half against Sweden.

For whatever else Hodgson has achieved, this England side do have discernible spirit. It might not be terribly intelligent or sophisticated at times but it was the defining factor in Friday night’s victory over Sweden.

And that is a considerable achievement. Everyone assumed it required the charisma of Harry Redknapp to induce a feelgood factor in this squad, not the man caricatured as cautious and coy from Croydon.

But in less than a month, Hodgson has persuaded a disparate group of players to commit to a mutual cause in a way Fabio Capello rarely managed. At the 2010 World Cup, England were unrecognisable as rampaging Premier League players.

Cameo star: Theo Walcott scored one goal and made another

Cameo star: Theo Walcott scored one goal and made another

Capello and his assistants were bewildered by the dread they saw in players’ eyes before games. Now at least Hodgson’s England play with the fearless determination — and, it should be added, the naivety — of a decent Premier League side.

In the city centre hotel in Krakow where the players are staying, the upbeat mood has prevailed. Wayne Rooney, despite not being available for the first two games, has been an enthusiastic tourist, the moping and restlessness of Rustenburg in South Africa long-forgotten.

‘He has not been like a caged animal, he has been a very, very good professional,’ said Hodgson.

‘His training performances have been first class. He has been encouraging all the players. I know there’s a myth about him but I haven’t seen any signs of it.’

Chance to seal it: Andreas Isaksson deflects a shot by England's Steven Gerrard, second left, in the final miniutes

Chance to seal it: Andreas Isaksson deflects a shot by England's Steven Gerrard, second left, in the final minutes

In his down time Rooney has been watching the tennis from the French Open in Paris, often with Joe Hart and Robert Green. Those inside the camp report the cliques that so often dominated England teams in the past have disappeared.

For the first time in a decade, the players look happy to be here. Even the beleaguered and outnumbered England fans contribute to a sense of shared comradeship between players and supporters, which is a world away from the team who were booed off in Cape Town two years ago.

The more serious aspects of the trip have been embraced by the players, too. This looks like an England team engaged with both the tournament and the countries they are visiting.

Time to celebrate: Hodgson celebrates England's win

Time to celebrate: Hodgson celebrates England's win

Those are the positives. At times, however, England versus Sweden resembled a low-quality mid-table domestic game. Zlatan Ibrahimovic rose above the mire, as did, at times, Gerrard and Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll.

But in the four minutes of added time, when both sides needed to keep control of the ball, possession changed 12 times, or once every 20 seconds.

It was football without the handbrake applied, but not in a way that is going to win this championship.

Fernando Torres" goal proves Chelsea have rediscovered best form, says Branislav Ivanovic

Torres' goal proves Chelsea have rediscovered best form, says Ivanovic

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UPDATED:

10:20 GMT, 2 April 2012

Defender Branislav Ivanovic believes Fernando Torres' return to form has created a feelgood factor at Chelsea as they aim to end a difficult season with two trophies.

Torres ended his six-month goal drought in the Barclays Premier League when he netted in stoppage time to seal a 4-2 success at Aston Villa on Saturday.

The Spaniard also had a hand in the other three goals, twice flicking on Juan Mata corners for Ivanovic to score.

Waiting game: Torres future has been called into question after his goal drought

Waiting game: Torres future has been called into question after his goal drought

Torres has been at the heart of Chelsea's best moments as they have been transformed under interim boss Roberto Di Matteo, which has seen them win six of eight games under his guidance.

Torres scored twice as Chelsea thumped Leicester 5-2 to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup while he provided the assist for Salomon Kalou's match-winner in their 1-0 Champions League quarter-final first leg at Benfica last week.

His goal at Villa Park was wildly celebrated by the away fans, with every Chelsea player racing over to join in the congratulations, and Ivanovic admitted Torres' improvement was providing the enthusiasm to end the season on a high.

'It was an important goal for him. Fernando has been going well and playing well all over the pitch,' he said.

'He's been doing everything for the team and I think he deserved that goal. He is a great player. Of course he has felt the pressure and so it was important for us to support him.

'We know how good he is. We've seen that every day in training. But at the same time, for him to score a goal was very important.

Brace yourself: Ivanovic scored two for the Blues against Aston Villa

Brace yourself: Ivanovic scored two for the Blues against Aston Villa

'But for us, we know how much he has given us. He doesn't just play for himself but he plays for the team.

'After the game, he didn't really say anything. But I went up to him and said: “Thank you for the two assists!”'

Chelsea's attention now turns to Wednesday night's second leg against Benfica at Stamford Bridge when they will be expected to progress into the last four where either Barcelona or AC Milan await.

Following a disappointing campaign few would expect the Blues to progress much further, especially should they meet Barca, but Ivanovic thinks that may work in their favour.

'If people think like that it can be good for us because we will feel less pressure, which in games like this can be very important,' he said.

'But we have to go game by game and prepare everything. We will see how we go.

'In truth, the story before the game is not that important. What matters is the story of the game, the matches themselves, and we have to be focused on that.

'Wednesday is a huge game for us. It is a big opportunity and a big chance. We got a great result in Lisbon but it is not over because they don't have anything to lose.

'We have to be careful and ready for what we need to do.'