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Feb 26, 2009

Hiddink warns Chelsea of Juventus backlash

Guus Hiddink has warned Chelsea not to underestimate the challenge that faces them in Turin in the away leg of their Champions League tie against Juventus despite beating the Italian side 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening.

Striker Didier Drogba gave the Blues their slender advantage ahead of their last-16 second leg contest in a fortnight with a 12th minute winner at Stamford Bridge.

But while the Blues prevented Juventus from scoring a vital away goal, the interim Dutch coach knows the biggest test is yet to come.

''It is good to have a clean sheet because Juventus now have to try and score,'' said Hiddink. ''We will try to score there, but it will be difficult. Juve are smart and are always dangerous around the box. It will be hard.''

Hiddink had no complaints about Drogba, who was marginalised by predecessor Luiz Felipe Scolari. The Dutchman insists he has never had a problem with the Ivorian's commitment or motivation since he succeeded the Brazilian earlier this month.

''I cannot and will not talk about the past because I was not here to judge, but what I normally ask from professional players is to be very committed,'' added Hiddink. ''There has not been one player that I have had to motivate. If I had to motivate a player, then I think I start fighting with him or neglecting him.

''I have not had this problem at all with Drogba. From the first day I was here, he enjoyed training and worked hard. He worked hard against Villa and again tonight. I don't have any problems with under-motivated players.''

Drogba was adamant that his return to form was not down to the change of coach.

''No, no, I don't think it's because of a change of manager,'' he said. ''We did our best. It was a difficult game and we created chances to score more but it's a good result.

''We need to improve a lot of things but it's good for the team that we have players who can make a difference and score goals.''

Former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri was delighted with the warm reception he received from the home fans before the kick-off but rued the lack of an away goal for his Juve team.

Ranieri failed to win a trophy in his four years in charge at Stamford Bridge but received a louder round of applause than Hiddink.

''I have to say I was extremely happy with the reception, because it showed they had not forgotten me,'' said the Italian, who was replaced by Jose Mourinho in the summer of 2004.

Ranieri believes Juventus can still turn the tie around but would have preferred to have gone home with an away goal.

''Scoring an away goal in a match like this would have been better for us,'' he added.

''We knew going into the game that it would be difficult. That's why it was important for us to try and get a goal. Perhaps it would have been better to play not so well and get a result.''

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