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Stop dreaming of European glory Ballack tells Blues brothers

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Stop dreaming of European glory Ballack tells Blues brothers

Postby Miss Dangerous » Thu Dec 07, 2006 1:20 am

Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack warned his teammates not to get carried away dreaming about winning the Champions League after the Blues cruised into the knockout stages.

The Germany captain said the English Premiership champions had every chance of seizing the European crown after topping Group A, ahead of Spanish holders Barcelona, Germany's Werder Bremen and Bulgarian champions Levski Sofia.

But the 30-year-old said targeting a run to the final would be foolish, with the likes of Real Madrid, AC Milan, Barcelona and his former side Bayern Munich also among the last 16.

And Ballack speaks from bitter experience: he suffered heartbreak in 2002 when the unfancied Bayer Leverkeusen's fairytale run to the final at Glasgow's Hampden Park ended in a 2-1 to Real Madrid.

"At this moment its difficult to say how far we can go," Ballack said.

"We will see what the draw brings for us next week.

"It's not good to speak now about a target to go in the final because the Champions League is such a difficult competition.

"We have a good chance this year to win this cup but we know it's very tough and there's a lot of good teams in the Champions League."

Chelsea will now face a team which finished runner-up in one of the other seven first-round groups, with home advantage in the second leg.

"The important thing is that we can play the second game at home, However, there are very strong teams in second place in other groups," Ballack cautioned.

He made his 60th Champions League appearance as Chelsea beat Levski 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko struck his first European-level goal for the club, and bit-part England winger Sean Wright-Phillips came off the bench to score his first competitive goal for the Blues in 52 games trying.

Wayne Bridge, who plays second fiddle to England and Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole, was handed a start by Blues boss Jose Mourinho.

The defender has every reason to be cheerful: he penned a new four-year contract last week and has recently become a father and relished the chance to make his 11th appearance of the season.

"You have to motivate yourself because they're no mugs and you could see they could play a bit, so we knew it was not going to be easy," the 26-year-old said.

"We could have had a few more goals but we made a few defensive mistakes and they could have even sneaked a goal."

Shevchenko, a 30-million-pound (59-million-dollar, 44-million-euro) British record signing in pre-season, has been criticised for scoring just six times in 20 Chelsea outings.

But Bridge defended the 30-year-old after he overtook Portugal legend Eusebio to become the sole second-greatest goalscorer in European competition on 57 -- five short of Germany hero Gerd Muller.

"He's taken some stick in the press but we've seen him in training. We know he can do it and he took his goal brilliantly," Bridge said.

Cole, who yawned his way through the Levski match on the bench, is likely to be reinstated for Sunday's crunch visit of third-placed Arsenal, as second-placed Chelsea look to close the gap on Premiership leaders Manchester United.

With Champions League action on hold until February, Chelsea can now concentrate on overhauling United's six-point lead as the Blues chase a third straight Premiership crown.

"For us, every game is difficult and important," said Ballack.

"And definitely on Sunday, Arsenal is a big, important game. So we're not only looking towards the Champions League." :twisted:

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