LONDON: Carlo Ancelotti expects his Chelsea stars to seize the opportunity to make history when the Premier League champion faces Portsmouth in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.
Ancelotti's side will become only the seventh club to do the league and FA Cup double if it defeats relegated Pompey and the Blues boss believes the opportunity to write a unique chapter in Chelsea's history will give his players all the motivation they need.
With the English title already in the bag thanks to an 8-0 rout of Wigan on the final day of the season, Chelsea's players will take on the Premier League's bottom team brim full of confidence.
The Blues are odds-on to become the first English club since Arsenal in 2002 to do the double and Ancelotti has seen in training this week just how focused his players are on winning the Cup for the third time in four seasons.
“My players know very well how they have to play this game, how to prepare for this game, it is a great opportunity to win the double. It is the first time for this club and we can do this,” Ancelotti said.
“It was a normal week and we are focused for the next game, everyone knows how important this competition is and I am happy because the team were playing well this week. They are focused and we want to win this cup.
Although he is confident of winning in his first FA Cup final, Ancelotti won't let his stars underestimate a Portsmouth team which has reached Wembley for the second time in three years despite the horrendous financial problems ravaging Fratton Park.
“We have to have respect for Portsmouth because they have been relegated but they deserve to play in this final,” Ancelotti said.
“They played well against Tottenham in the semifinals, so we have to fight against them to win this game.
“It gives them a good opportunity to save the season and we have to pay attention to this because we are playing against players with strong motivation.
The 2008 FA Cup winner was effectively condemned to relegation after being handed a nine-point penalty for going into administration, but boss Avram Grant has somehow managed to foster a strong team-spirit in the face of extreme adversity.
Grant's collection of loan signings and journeyman sprang one of the shocks of the season when it beats Tottenham 2-0 in the semifinals and the former Chelsea boss would relish the chance to inflict an embarrassing defeat on the club who sacked him two years ago.
The Israeli was dismissed even though he led Chelsea to within a missed John Terry penalty of beating Manchester United in the Champions League final and he still harbours a grudge over his treatment.
“How close were we from winning the Champions League?
“A penalty away. So I can tell you with total honesty that I was not happy with the way they treated me in the end,” Grant said.
Hard to forget
“There were a lot of negative things that happened, things I didn't like and find hard to forget.
“I was very proud of what I achieved at Chelsea but their big mistake was to take what I did for granted.
With debts of over 130 million pounds and no new owner in sight, Portsmouth facing the bleak prospect of Championship football and more financial uncertainty next season, so it is hardly surprising Grant and several of his players could be making their final bow for the club this weekend. — AFP