LONDON, April 6 – Carlo Ancelotti has warned Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson that Chelsea are finally ready to fulfil their dream of winning the Champions League.
Ancelotti’s side have endured a difficult season after falling 11 points behind United in the Premier League and going out of both domestic cup competitions.
But the Chelsea manager knows they can make amends for those failures by going all the way in Europe’s elite club competition.
Chelsea lost the 2008 final against United on penalties and have also been beaten in the semi-finals on four occasions.
The Blues will have to get past United in the quarter-finals to improve on that record and Ancelotti believes his players are in the perfect frame of mind to get the job done, starting in Wednesday’s first leg at Stamford Bridge.
"In the past Chelsea was very close to winning the Champions League, but unfortunately some little details were not good. I hope this season we can have been luck," Ancelotti said on Tuesday.
"The atmosphere is good and the players have the experience and ability to do everything to win it. We arrived at the right moment to play our best.
"We know we play against a fantastic team but we have confidence to do our best. If we do that we can beat Manchester United.
"The Champions League is not an obsession for Chelsea but it is the most important competition in the world. It is a dream.
"At the start everyone wants to believe you can win it. It is a fantastic competition and I said to my players this morning we have to be happy to play this kind of game.
"Every manager and player in the world wants to be involved in this sort of game. It is a fantastic moment in your career."
As Saturday’s disappointing 1-1 draw at Stoke showed all too clearly, Chelsea’s form remains inconsistent, but the sight of United seems to bring out the best in the Blues and their manager.
Ancelotti has an impressive recent record against Ferguson, winning all three league meetings since his move to Stamford Bridge in 2009 and knocking United out of the Champions League during his time in charge at AC Milan.
United have also failed to win at the Bridge since 2002, yet Ancelotti is adamant history will count for nothing over the two legs.
"I want to think this is the past. It doesn’t matter if I had a good record in the past with Man United," he said.
"We want to focus on the next game tomorrow (Wednesday). It will be different to the Premier League. We have to play 180 minutes, so we want to start well but I have to know everything will be decided at Old Trafford.
"Nothing will be decided at Chelsea. For this reason it is different to play against them in the Champions League."
Ancelotti admitted he has already decided his starting eleven but he declined to reveal whether Fernando Torres will return to the team after the Spain striker was dropped at Stoke.
Torres is still waiting for his first goal since his British record £50 million move from Liverpool in January and Didier Drogba has often troubled United in the past.
However, Ancelotti remains firmly in the Spaniard’s corner and he could opt to kept faith with the misfiring star.
"For a striker it is important to score but the criticism (of Torres) is not in Chelsea, it is outside," Ancelotti said.
"We have seen him play well for the team. He didn’t score and he is not happy for this reason but he has done everything he can for the team.
"I don’t have pressure to choose the line-up. Obviously it is not easy because I have more than 11 fantastic players but it is my job."