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By ESPN Staff

Mikel confident of Champions League glory

Mikel John Obi is confident Chelsea can go one step further this season and finally lift the Champions League crown.

Chelsea have won every domestic title since Roman Abramovich injected his billions into the club - but European glory has been their holy grail.

After three semi-final defeats the Blues were beaten by Manchester United on penalties in last year's final, a memory which acts as a fierce motivating factor within the Chelsea squad.

"It has been a long time since the Champions League final,'' said the Nigeria international. "We all felt really bad after the game and we know what we lost - but this season we have a very good chance of winning it.''

In a summer of extraordinary transfer fees, the arrival of Deco from Barcelona for just £8million is already beginning to look like an astute piece of business.

The Portuguese, who has won the European Cup with Porto and Barcelona, settled in immediately at Stamford Bridge and Mikel believes his arrival could make the vital difference.

"I think he brings a lot to the team. Everyone can see the way he plays, I think he gives us a lot of options in the middle when we play,'' said Mikel. "He always wants to express himself, be on the ball and when you have players like that in the middle with you, you will have more options.

"The manager wants us to pass the ball around, and I think Deco is a brilliant player. He gives us a lot.''

Tonight's clash with Bordeaux is manager Luiz Felipe Scolari's first taste of Champions League action in a long and distinguished career.

Scolari has enjoyed success in the South American version - the Copa Libertadores - and he wants a repeat experience in Europe but insists it is not the be-all and end-all.

His predecessors have paid for Chelsea's failure to win the European Cup.

Chief executive Peter Kenyon said 12 months ago that Chelsea expected to be crowned European champions twice by 2013. Avram Grant did not even last the summer after the penalty shoot-out defeat in Moscow.

But Scolari insisted there is no extra pressure from on high to deliver the Champions League title in his first year at the club.

"Chelsea have been trying for many years to win the Champions League and last season arrived in the final, which was fantastic,'' said Scolari. "It's not easy to reach the final and tonight we start again. It's a long way and it's not easy.

"I don't talk with Roman Abramovich about the Champions League. It is not right to put out the idea that if you don't win then the coach is out. You don't know the history.''

Nevertheless, Bordeaux manager Laurent Blanc, the former Manchester United defender, taunted Chelsea for failing to land Europe's top prize despite splashing out millions of pounds.

Blanc thinks Chelsea crave that success because without it they cannot compete with the long European traditions of rival clubs like United and Real Madrid.

He said: "When I left Manchester it was around the time the owner of Chelsea had just arrived and was putting his team together and strengthening his club.

"When you have the millions of pounds Chelsea have behind them, it helps an awful lot. Maybe even I could put a team together that would win the European Cup with that financial backing behind me.

"Chelsea have progressed and are probably one of the best clubs in the world. They have the fans, the infrastructure and the finances.

"But in spite of all those things I have listed, they still haven't carried off the Champions League trophy, which shows how difficult a competition it is to win. To do that is now their aim.''

Michael Essien is out injured while Didier Drogba is suspended but Michael Ballack is in line for a return from injury.


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