CECH TREADING FAMILIAR PATH
Petr Cech admitted it felt like Groundhog Day as the Chelsea goalkeeper once again stood on the brink of reaching the Champions League final.
Cech and his Blues team-mates arrived in Barcelona on Monday afternoon just 90 minutes away from one of the most famous victories in their history.
The 29-year-old acknowledged that had been little more than a pipe dream when caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo was first charged with picking up the pieces of Andre Villas-Boas' doomed reign.
But an astonishing seven weeks later and that dream is close to becoming a reality for a man who has played in five of Chelsea's six semi-finals - and their only previous final - since Roman Abramovich bought the club.
"I've been hoping for the last eight years that it would be the year I'd have a chance to win the Champions League," Cech said ahead of Tuesday's second leg at the Nou Camp.
"Here we are again, in the semi-final.
"We always try to reach the final and go as far as we can, to try and win the competition.
"Many times we were close and haven't managed to do so.
"If we have a fantastic game tomorrow, we'll have a chance to reach the final
"But we need to play the 90 minutes tomorrow - then we might be able to think about a final."
A first Champions League final since 2008 looked impossible two months ago when Chelsea slumped to a 3-1 defeat in their last-16 first leg at Napoli in the death throes of Villas-Boas' tenure.
"I can imagine a lot of things, but it's true there were moments when everything looked more complicated," Cech said.
"Thankfully, we've done this and now we want to carry on.
"But you have things happening in football quite fast.
"It can go from bad to great, and great to bad, in a split second."
He added: "After the Napoli game, everybody was writing us off.
"Yet, here we are, in Camp Nou, with 90 minutes to reach the final."
The odds are that Wednesday night's statistics-defying 1-0 first-leg victory remains the high water mark of Chelsea's season, with Barca favourites to put them to the sword tomorrow.
Cech said: "Chelsea were yes, okay, very lucky in the first game, but I still think we played a very good game.
"It was a very tactical contest, and we played a good game.
"We had a good result in that first game but, on the other hand, we are playing at Camp Nou.
"Barcelona are the favourites for this game because they play at home."
Yet history is on Chelsea's side. They have not lost in their last six meetings with Barcelona, three of those at the Nou Camp.
Cech said: "We always try our best to find a way to play well against them.
"Of course, we've put ourselves in a very good position by winning that first leg."
Chelsea did so despite having just one shot on target and watching their opponents squander five gilt-edged chances after enjoying 72% possession.
Cech said: "I think it'll be the same as the first leg, really. A goal will make a big difference for us for the whole tie."
An away goal would also further dent the confidence of a Barca side whose defeat in Saturday's top-of-the-table Primera Division clash with Real Madrid was their first in 54 home games.
But Cech said: "Although Barcelona lost the 'Clasico' on Saturday, it won't have a big impact on the game tomorrow. They're a great team.
"They have a lot of experience, they know how to handle defeats."
They will also have a lot more space than at Stamford Bridge, 239 square metres more to be precise.
Cech said: "The pitch won't be different to any other pitch.
"It's clear it looks big because the stadium is big, and the space around the pitch might be bigger.
"But the dimensions will be the same as we're used to.
"It always appears bigger because Barcelona have so much possession, but we'll see tomorrow."
Cech cut a relaxed figure at Monday night's press conference, summed up when he was asked whether Jose Mourinho had been in touch with any of the squad.
He joked: "Yeah, we had a tactical meeting a few hours ago.
"He showed us the whole file and we tried to get it down."
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