Di Matteo hails Chelsea old guard after Barcelona victory

Chelsea interim manager Roberto Di Matteo has praised the club’s elder players for their role in the Premier League side’s 1-0 Champions League victory over Barcelona on Wednesday, the Guardian has reported.

The Blues edged past the defending champions through Didier Drogba’s goal on the stroke of half-time and spent the remainder of the match defending the slender advantage in the face of almost total Barcelona possession and some intense pressure from the La Liga club.

Di Matteo however rejected the idea that some of Chelsea’s senior figures were too old to play against Barcelona just days after an FA Cup semi-final win over Tottenham Hotspur. The Italian said: “…a lot of the public opinion has been that these boys are…too old…to play at this level. But they gave an answer on the pitch tonight….Young and old stay together in this team and fight for the same target.

Apart from the goal scorer, 34-year-old Drogba, Di Matteo included a number of other players aged 30 and over. Petr Cech, 30 in May, kept a clean sheet in goal, while 31-year-old John Terry, playing with two broken ribs, made a number of important blocks as well as marshalling the defence while Ashley Cole, also 31, offered an attacking outlet from left-back as well as a sturdy defensive presence.

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