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Heat off Fernando Torres thanks to kind Champions League draw

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16 Mar 2011 08:49:26

Heat off Fernando Torres thanks to kind Champions League draw

Chelsea have cursed their luck many times in the Champions League and the sight of a Norwegian referee at Stamford Bridge tonight will rekindle the worst of those memories. For Carlo Ancelotti, however, this season's European competition has brought good fortune, not least the pairing of his team with FC Copenhagen when the draw was made in December. Copenhagen have been wonderful thus far for Ancelotti. They were so tame in the Danish capital three weeks ago that Chelsea seized a 2-0 lead which is it hard to see them surrendering. Sub standard: Torres battles with Mikel and Luiz in training but the ?50m man may be on the bench against Copenhagen It could have been Inter or AC Milan piling pressure upon the Blues at a time when their season was threatening to crumble last month following an FA Cup defeat at home by Everton. Instead, they faced a team breaking new ground in the Champions League and who had not played competitively for three months, and it became a turning point. After that win in the Parken Stadium they defeated Manchester United and Blackpool, and the FA Cup exit eased the schedule and offered more time for Ancelotti to try and blend Fernando Torres and David Luiz into his team. The Chelsea boss said: 'Copenhagen was an important match to move on. It gave us confidence, optimism, not just the result. 'We had a very good performance and were able to repeat that against Manchester United. The turning point was the game in Copenhagen. 'Our confidence is better and so wewant to keep this going and improving it. We want to move on, reach thequarter-finals and await the draw.' The first leg cushion meansAncelotti will rest players. He admits he is tempted to start withoutTorres with Sunday's clash with Manchester City in mind. Michael Essienis another who could take a breather. European dream: Copenhagen are cruising at the top of their domestic league but failed to recapture their good form in the first-leg It is a risky strategy but also ahint that the Italian has not given up hope of defending the BarclaysPremier League title. He said in January he thought 80 points would beenough to clinch the league and Chelsea can reach 81 if they win theirlast 10 games. 'Our moment is really good and we are ready to fight,' said Ancelotti, boosted by the return of Alex to training this week, who will be involved against City according to the manager. Yossi Benayoun, who trained alone yesterday, could rejoin the main group before the end of the week for the first time since rupturing his achilles in October. 'All the players are fit,' added Ancelotti. 'This is very good news. I want to maintain a good motivation for everyone. We need everyone for the run-in.' Helping to lift the gloom at Chelsea is Fabio Capello's decision to end John Terry's year of exile from England captaincy duties, although Ancelotti was reluctant to engage on the issue yesterday. 'I didn't say anything when the England team took away his armband and now I won't say anything,' he said. 'It's not my job. John Terry is our captain. He is a Chelsea man and a Chelsea player. He has fantastic ability and personality.' Arsenal's sudden collapse has also taken the glare from Ancelotti and the one more thing that could gladden his heart would be a goal for ?50million signing Torres. Good reason, you would think for him to play against Copenhagen but the manager has faith in his to find his touch, regardless of the opposition. 'The only problem is that he's a new player and needs to know our play better,' said Ancelotti. 'He moves well and has a lot of chances.' Copenhagen, who trained at Stamford Bridge last night, are 20 points clear at the top of their domestic league but have failed to recapture top form since the winter break. They have a defensive crisis with Zdenek Pospech suspended, Solvi Ottesen injured and Mikael Antonsson doubtful and manager Stale Solbakken admitted: 'We need a miracle or two. But we are still in the competition and won't lay down. If Sunderland can score three here, we can score two. It's important to fight to the end.' And referring to Jesper Gronkjaer's mistake which led to Chelsea's first goal in Denmark, Solbakken added wryly: 'Let's hope Jesper doesn't score another one for Chelsea.' Even without assistance, Chelsea are more than capable of joining another six teams hoping to avoid Barcelona in the last eight. 'Barcelona are the best team in Europe,' said Ancelotti. 'But every game is different. I hope to be in the draw first. If we have to play them, we have to try to find a way to beat them.' The last time they played Barca, it was referee Tom Henning Ovrebo who seized the headlines, but perhaps their luck is turning.  VIDEO: Ancelotti on Copenhagen clash... Lee Congerton on the way out of Chelsea with scout to follow Frank Arnesen to HamburgJohn Terry delight at earning England armband back, claims Chelsea boss Carlo AncelottiAlex set to make long-awaited Chelsea return from injury in crunch City clashAll the latest Chelsea news, features and opinion    Explore more:People: John Terry, Fabio Capello, Fernando Torres, Carlo Ancelotti Places: Copenhagen, Barcelona, Denmark, United Kingdom, Europe


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