Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata reckons tonight’s crucial Champions League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk should be treated like a final.
The Blues go into the match knowing a second defeat in a fortnight against the Ukrainian Premier League champions would leave them with a mountain to climb to avoid becoming the first reigning Champions League winners to fail to reach the knockout stage. Mata, who has been one of Chelsea’s top performers during the early parts of the season, knows what a stern challenge Shakhtar pose and will treat the meeting as a cup final.
“It’s time to move on and to focus on the Champions League match this Wednesday. It’s like a final for us if we want to finish first in our group,” he wrote on his official online blog.
“Besides, in Ukraine, Shakhtar proved to be a top team who are able to beat anyone. Even so, we always have a great support at the Bridge and I’m confident that we will get a victory to face the last two games in a good position. Champions League’s nights at the Bridge are always special.”
The Spain playmaker sat out Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Swansea with a slight hamstring problem after playing the whole of Chelsea’s 5-4 extra-time victory over Manchester United in the Capital One Cup and suggested he just needed to rest up following a tiring week.
“After such a huge effort during 120 minutes I was forced to rest a few days with a hamstring injury,” he said.
“That’s why I missed our game in Wales vs Swansea.”
Summer signing Victor Moses made his first league start for the club at Swansea due to Mata’s injury with the former Wigan forward opening the scoring before Pablo Hernandez’s late equaliser.