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May 4, 2009

Messi turns attention to Chelsea after Clasico rout

Lionel Messi has warned UEFA Champions League opponents Chelsea that Barcelona's confidence is sky-high after their weekend 'El Clasico' success.

The Primera Division giants claimed a remarkable 6-2 victory over bitter rivals Real Madrid on Saturday to extend their lead at the summit to seven points.

Argentina star Messi, who netted a brace during the encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu, is now ready for Chelsea, with the semi-final tie delicately poised after a goalless first leg in Spain.

He said in The Sun: "We will play in the same way against Chelsea as we did against Real and, playing like that, we will have many chances.

"If we do things as we did on Saturday then we will score and go through.

"This was a massive boost. We're going to London with great spirit and desire to fight and with a lot of belief that we'll go through. We've come out of this with a renewed confidence and strength."

Meanwhile, Frank Lampard has dismissed claims about Chelsea's negative approach ahead of their midweek Champions League clash with Barcelona.

"It was a magnificent result and a terrific performance," he told the News of the World. "As for all this controversy - I just look at it as a cultural difference both in the way the two clubs play and the two leagues play the game.

"Our league is more physical and I think that's one of the big pluses of English football.

Chelsea became the first team to keep Barcelona from scoring at home this season and Lampard knows that a win on Wednesday night will send them through no matter what.

"They always fire up the talk to build it all up for the second leg, to get everyone fired up for it. But the bottom line is it's what happens on the pitch that matters most," he said.

"That's where you need a strong referee that understands both cultures, who takes into account the different styles of the leagues and the teams.

"We had that in the first leg because I thought the referee stood up to the pressure very well. Not just to the protests of their players over every decision but to the 95,000 fans who were screaming at him too.

"It certainly takes a strong personality to deal with that without succumbing which is why it is important in the return leg that Chelsea fans make sure the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge is as strong and loud as possible to make it just as uncomfortable for Barca as they made it for us over there."

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