Scolari targets finals to prove Chelsea's standing
Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari insists his side still has much to prove ahead of Tuesday night's Champions league clash against struggling Roma.
Scolari's team are top of the Barclays Premier League and Group A in the Champions League, but the Brazilian admits they have achieved nothing compared to their feats under former boss Avram Grant.
Grant, who took over from the axed Jose Mourinho in September last year, made way for Scolari in the summer after guiding Chelsea to the finals of the Carling Cup and Champions League and chasing Manchester United all the way in the league.
"We need to arrive in more finals and win more finals to say we are better, but not now,'' admitted Scolari. "We have played very well but we need to arrive in more finals.''
Victory in the Italian capital tomorrow evening will put Chelsea into the knockout stages of the competition, and while Roma coach Luciano Spalletti claimed the Blues are the best team in the world right now, Scolari chose to disagree.
"We are one of the best 10 teams in the world,'' said Scolari. "We are not the best. We are very good but there are other teams that play very well. I am not a man who would say 'we are the best in the world'.''
Chelsea have lost the services of left-back Ashley Cole with a calf muscle injury but he will be replaced by Wayne Bridge.
That is likely to be the only change from the side that defeated Sunderland 5-0 on Saturday as striker Didier Drogba is still unfit.
The Ivory Coast hitman appeared as a substitute against the Black Cats but Scolari insists he is nowhere near the peak condition needed to be considered as a starter against Roma.
That will provide Saturday's hat-trick hero Nicolas Anelka with another opportunity to prove he is finally beginning to settle at Stamford Bridge.
"Anelka will start,'' said Scolari. "Didier is not ready to play a normal game. He can play maybe 25 or 30 minutes - not more. Nicolas Anelka is in better condition, so he will play.''
But while Scolari remains satisfied with his side's exploits so far this season, he is certainly yearning for the day when he can choose from a fully-fit squad.
Michael Essien, Michael Ballack and Ricardo Carvalho are all out with long-term injuries, and Scolari added: "We have played some very good games, but we didn't play well in one or two and paid the price for that.
"Maybe in the future I will have more options because we will have Essien, Ballack, Carvalho and Ashley Cole back, and that will be good for me. I am not happy at the moment because I don't have all the players at my disposal.
"When I have these players, it is better for me because I will work and decide who will play and who won't. That is my job as a coach. I need to talk and explain to them who is playing or not playing. This is a team and I am part of that team.''
Roma, struggling near the foot of Serie A, have lost the valuable experience of Francesco Totti in attack and while Scolari was sympathetic, he knows it will help his team's cause.
"Totti is a fantastic player,'' said Scolari. "But when a team loses a player like that, it is good for the opposition.''
The final of the Champions League is being played in the Olympic Stadium but Scolari would not be drawn on his team's ability to come back in May.
"There is a long way to go,'' he said. "Tomorrow is an important game that we want to win and go to the next stage. We are here to beat Roma. But I like the hotel we are staying in and if we should arrive in the final and the hotel will have us, I would like to be there.''
Scolari also shrugged off any suggestion of crowd trouble at the game.
Captain John Terry had earlier called for fans to be on their best behaviour with Roma's 'Ultras' having a fearsome reputation for inciting violence in recent years.
But Scolari added: "I don't think there is any problem because people in Rome are civilised. It is only a game, not a war. It is a game of football. It is a normal situation.''