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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
Read

Chelsea won with luck, hard work

John Obi Mikel admitted Chelsea were "kind of lucky" to win the Champions League but insisted they now had a team capable of historic back-to-back triumphs.

However, both Mikel and manager Roberto Di Matteo emphasized Tuesday that while luck was a part of their Champions League win, most of the credit should go to their hard work and preparation.

The Blues kick off the defense of their European crown Wednesday night against Juventus, with many still pinching themselves at the manner in which they finally ended their agonizing wait for club football's biggest prize.

Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon, meanwhile, declared Tuesday that Chelsea's Champions League triumph proved anything was possible in football as he played down his own side's lack of experience in the competition.

Chelsea's astonishing run has led some to dismiss their triumph as being down to nothing more than blind luck, with Liverpool legend Graeme Souness declaring: "Nobody in the history of football has ever had that much luck."

Mikel, who was crucial to their success after playing every minute from the quarterfinals onward, responded Tuesday afternoon: "When people say that, sometimes it's actually not true.

"I think we worked very hard for what we achieved last season. But, at the same time, you need luck in everything you do," he continued.

"So, yeah, we were kind of lucky but, this season, it's a different story altogether. We brought in new players that are going to help us in this campaign.

"So, hopefully this season, we can play good football and win games. And hopefully, we can go very, very far in this tournament -- hopefully get to the final again."

Di Matteo, whose appointment as caretaker was the catalyst for a sensational turnaround in Chelsea's fortunes back in March, shrugged off being branded "lucky."

"They said the same about many other managers when they won," he said.

"You need to deserve everything you get, and I think we worked very hard for it. We prepared ourselves very well against our opposition," he said. "It can't just be (luck).

"You might need, and you will need, a portion of luck during a competition like this. But every team has it to be able to achieve the final target to win it. That's a minor part of it."

Buffon, said Chelsea's success gives his team a roadmap to success.

"What's beautiful about football is that it's not always the team that's considered the stronger one that's actually going to win."

The 34-year-old, who has seen it all at Juve since joining them 11 years ago, added: "Obviously, we're an emerging team at the moment. We've got many young players but they're all coming up strongly."

The UEFA Super Cup two and a half weeks ago provided a wake-up call about what awaits them if they rest on their laurels, with defender Ashley Cole tweeting: "No fight, desire, passion."

Mikel said Tuesday: "We're still hungry, there are still players in that dressing room that still want to retain this trophy.

"We want to build on it, we don't want to stop, and hopefully we can build on it this season, and tomorrow is the start of it."

Chelsea now get to call themselves European champions and also make themselves a bigger target for their opponents, not least one unbeaten in 42 Serie A matches.

"It does add to pressure on us but, at the same time, we're kind of more relaxed, because we've done it, this club has won it now," Mikel said. "We're all big players and this is what we live with. So we have to go out there tomorrow and make sure that we play well.

"Obviously, it's not going to be easy because Juve haven't lost since last season."

That is largely thanks to Andrea Pirlo, who was also one of stars of this summer's European Championship.

The Italy star plays in the same position as Mikel, who said: "Playing against a legend like Pirlo is going to be great.

"But I also want to go in there and win tomorrow. So it's going to be a battle. He's a great player but, once we step on to the pitch, it's a different story. He wants to win, I want to win.

"I respect him as a player and hopefully I can learn something from him tomorrow."

Oscar was handed his full debut for the match.

The Brazil star was given the nod over Juan Mata in place of Ryan Bertrand for the Blues' Group J opener.

Italian champions Juve handed recalls to Mirko Vucinic, Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichsteiner and Arturo Vidal for their return to the competition after a near-three-year absence.

Information from Press Association was used in this report.

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