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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr, 3, 2011

Ancelotti focused on Europe

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti is targeting the Champions League after his side's slim chances of defending their domestic title virtually disappeared.

An entertaining 1-1 draw at Stoke left the Blues 11 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United and even with a match in hand that appears too big a gap to close.

However, Chelsea face United in the quarter-finals of Europe's premier club competition on Wednesday with Ancelotti admitting that now represents their best chance of silverware.

"It is a very important game, obviously, but I think we have to be happy to be involved in this game,'' the Italian said. "Everyone is waiting for this game. We want to do our best and want to show our best ability and we know there are 180 minutes to play and we hope to win.

"In the title race we have to close the gap, in the Champions League we are at the same level of the other teams so we have more chance to win. It will not be a surprise to play against them, they know us very well and we know them very well.

"We have to play our football and I think we will do better. We will have a very exciting game against United, they are one of the best teams in Europe.

"It was important (at Stoke) to see the team in good condition and without injury so we can prepare well for this next game.''

While Ancelotti may have stressed he was happy with the performance if not the result against the Potters, had it not been for the returning Didier Drogba the visitors would have had little to show for their efforts.

The Ivory Coast international scored Chelsea's equaliser with a trademark power header in the 33rd minute to cancel out Jon Walters' early individual breakaway goal from the halfway line.

In the second half he also hit the post and the crossbar and was easily the Stamford Bridge side's most threatening player - even after the 61st-minute introduction of £50 million January signing Fernando Torres.

The Spain international has now gone 662 minutes without scoring for club or country, a spell of ten matches spanning back to late January when he hit two for former club Liverpool.

Drogba seems certain to start against United at Stamford Bridge in midweek while Torres could well be on the bench again.

"We have to check the next training session but he (Drogba) scored yesterday and it is a good moment for him,'' added Ancelotti, who once again had to brush aside Torres' disappointing run of form.

"Statistics are important in football - but not that important,'' he said. "It's important to have experience, to look at the players, to see their performance for the team.

"Statistics don't show how he is moving for the team. He had four chances against Copenhagen in the Champions League. In the last game he did not have a lot of chances to shoot or to score.

"He has to improve but it's the first two months here. He likes to receive the ball at a certain point, so we have to improve this. Sometimes he moves well on the wrong side of the centre-back and the ball does not arrive at the right time.''

Torres barely had a chance during the time he was on the pitch at the Britannia Stadium, although that was as much down to the excellence of the hosts who produced a rousing finish and almost claimed all three points.

In quick succession Marc Wilson's free-kick and Robert Huth's header were both tipped on to the crossbar by Petr Cech, who also produced a number of good saves before substitute Ricardo Fuller's header travelled the entire width of the goal but dropped wide of the far post.

"Chelsea put us under a lot of pressure but if you look at the second half we had more chances and were unlucky not to get three points,'' said midfielder Glenn Whelan.

"If you are disappointed not to get three points against Chelsea you know you are doing okay. We've got 38 points now but we'll try to get as many as we can and take each game as it comes.''

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