Azpilicueta: OM stint readied me for Blues
Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta has hailed his two-year spell in the footballing goldfish bowl of Marseille as the ideal preparation to help him handle the must-win mentality at Chelsea.
Azpilicueta, 23, arrived at the Stade Velodrome from Osasuna in 2010 as a relative unknown, and may have remained so in a city where the unforgiving fervour of OM's supporters has seen a number of players with bigger reputations sink into obscurity.
However, the Spain Under-21 international's quality quickly became apparent, as he won over even the most fickle of fans by dealing comfortably with the step up from Pamplona, and he is now putting that experience to good use following his switch to Stamford Bridge.
"It's more physical here [than in France], and the rhythm is higher. Sometimes, in the second half, it's a little bit mad. But my two years at OM have helped me adapt. The pressure is the same," Azpilicueta told L'Equipe.
"At Marseille, we had to win every game. At Chelsea too. The difference is that here we play to win each and every trophy. I came here for that, and to grow as a player."
The opportunities to progress for a man who ostensibly arrived in west London as cover for Branislav Ivanovic were initially limited. Azpilicueta had to wait until early October before finally making his Premier League debut, but he has since made eight further appearances in the English top flight.
"I didn't play a lot in the first couple of weeks, but that's normal," he said. "When you arrive at the European champions, you don't expect to be a first-team regular that quickly. I've worked hard to be able to hope to do that."