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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 9, 2008

Cole: Chelsea should already be Champions

England midfielder Joe Cole believes Chelsea should have already been crowned kings of Europe.

Chelsea have lost out in three semi-finals in recent years, two of them against English rivals Liverpool who they meet again in the last four of this year's competition, and another against Monaco.

Chelsea's 3-2 aggregate win over Fenerbahce on Tuesday night earned them a chance to make it third time lucky against Rafa Benitez's Merseysiders.

But Cole, who produced another dazzling display against the Turks, believes Chelsea should have already won the biggest club tournament in the game.

'We should have won it by now,' said Cole. 'That's what I believe.

'There's no point splitting hairs over things that have happened in the past but the semi-final against Monaco was particularly disappointing - especially the away leg.

'We got beaten by a side we should have overcome. Then you've got the Liverpool game the following season where we were let down by a dubious goal.

'But, as I said, you can't split hairs about this kind of thing. It's all in the past. I believe we've had a final place taken off us on three occasions.

'But the margins between winning and losing at this level are minimal and we really need to focus on how we perform in each game.

'The way I see it, the Champions League is work in progress at Chelsea. We haven't won it but our record over the last four years stands up against that of any club in Europe in terms of consistency and getting within spitting distance of the final.

'But no-one remembers semi-finalists or losing finalists. They won't remember dodgy goals at Anfield or bad decisions in Monaco.'

Cole is determined that Chelsea rid themselves of the `nearly men' tag that is threatening to cloud their Champions League ambitions.

Unlike the previous two meetings against Liverpool at the same stage of the competition, Chelsea have home advantage in the return leg.

Cole admits that the prospect of losing out in the last four again is more upsetting than failing to win a final.

'Losing a semi is much worse than losing a final,' said Cole. 'After the final, it is over. Lose a semi and you have to watch the other two teams in the final.

'It is heartbreaking. But that thought also drives us on to get there.'

Cole believes one of the keys to their remarkable quest for a successful double at home and in Europe, could be the hunger of players who spent much of the season on the sidelines through injury.

Captain John Terry, midfielder Michael Ballack, who opened the scoring in the 2-0 win over Fenerbahce, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba are all relatively fresh after spending periods out of action this term.

Cole added: 'We've had a lot of injuries this year so to be in the position we're in, to have this kind of run-in, is a remarkable achievement in itself.

'The players who have missed games are still fresh - you've got Michael Ballack, who missed the first half of the season, Frank missed a lot of football as has JT and Didier. They're big players for us and they're fresh, ready and hungry. I think that will give us an edge.'

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