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Apr 5, 2011

Ancelotti tight-lipped on Torres

Carlo Ancelotti has again leapt to the defence of his £50 million striker Fernando Torres as he ponders how best to beat Manchester United in their Champions League clash on Wednesday.

Ferguson defends Ancelotti and Torres
Chelsea vs Man Utd preview

Ancelotti would not be drawn on whether Torres, Didier Drogba, or both, would start against the Premier League leaders at Stamford Bridge but he claimed that no-one inside the club has criticised the Spaniard.

If body language is anything to go by, Torres looks likely to be recalled, with Ancelotti spending the opening few minutes of training on Tuesday morning engaged in discussion and friendly banter with the misfiring Spaniard, even pretending to throttle and punch him.

Explaining the exchange, Ancelotti said: "I would like to maintain a good atmosphere on the pitch, in training. My players know very well when they have to be serious on the pitch and when it can be fun."

Ancelotti continued to back Torres, who has now gone ten matches for club and country without scoring and nine since his move to Stamford Bridge. "Criticism is not in Chelsea. It's outside Chelsea," he said.

"We have seen Torres play well for the team. He didn't score, obviously. He's not happy for this reason, but he played well for the team. I hope he plays the same tomorrow - for the team."

Ancelotti denied Torres' price tag put pressure on him to start the Spaniard, saying: "I already decided and I never had the pressure to choose the line-up."

The Italian is under pressure, however, to deliver the Champions League, with Ancelotti brought in by billionaire owner Roman Abramovich with that goal in mind. Having won it twice while AC Milan manager, Ancelotti knows what Chelsea need in order to end their long wait.

"They have experience, they have ability, to do everything to try to win the Champions League," he said. "They've come so close to winning it. Unfortunately, some little details were not good. I hope this season we can have better luck, but we have to deserve the luck. In the end, if you deserve to win, you will win."

Midfielder Frank Lampard insists Chelsea don't feel any extra pressure to deliver the Champions League from Abramovich.

Lampard said: "I think we've given him some very good times, and I know the owner has appreciated it from how he's enjoyed them with us when we've won titles and cups, but the Champions League's a huge thing.

"I'm sure the owner would be very pleased for us to win it but, at the same time, he doesn't come in every day and knock our door down, saying, 'Why have I not won this yet?' He understands it's the most difficult competition in football."

Lampard also insisted Chelsea are not thinking about revenge for their 2008 Champions League defeat by Manchester United in Russia.

"I really promise you, revenge certainly isn't in our minds," he said. "When you play for a long period of time, as I have here, you see the ups and downs. You collect them. You don't any feel thoughts of revenge or anything against anyone. You understand you can't always be successful and win."

Lampard has certainly learnt that the hard way, having also suffered four semi-final defeats in the past seven years. "There have been a few painful ones, with England as well," he said. "They're obviously horrible feelings."

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