Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has spoken about his club's eagerly anticipated Champions League semi-final against heavy favourites Barcelona, insisting that his team "has a plan" to beat the Catalans and that the Blues will be "at their best".
The first leg of the semi-final, set to kick-off at 19:45 (BST) today (April 18) at Stamford Bridge, will see Chelsea go up against Barca in what many have predicted will be an easy ticket to the final for the Spaniards. Led by an indomitable Messi, who has netted 63 goals this season, Barcelona will be looking for a more convincing win than that of their clash against the London club in 2009, which they barely won thanks to a stoppage-time-strike from Andres Iniesta.
However, Lampard believes that his team has what it takes to overcome the odds, with him saying that he relishes the popular opinion that they are the underdogs: “You can talk yourself into fear by speaking too much about Barca", said the 33-year-old. "We are under no illusions about the task, but I like the tag of underdogs."
He added: “It’s always refreshing when you have belief in yourself. We’ll have to be at our best because we are taking on the best."
Lampard also spoke about Barcelona's star striker Lionel Messi's lack of goals scored against the Blues, saying: "Inevitably, every time you turn the telly on, Messi scores two goals standard, so we're proud he hasn't scored against us.
"But statistics and records go out of the window the way he's playing. Individually he's proved himself to be the most dangerous player in world football."
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech spoke of Messi's threat on goal, saying: "Barcelona alone are an exceptional team with a fantastic generation of players and he is the most exceptional among the exceptional. He is even better than the rest."
However, Cech also insisted that no one should be so sure of the striker scoring a goal past him, saying: "Messi in his current form is an enormous threat. He is for sure one of the best players in the world but, as I said before, no team is invincible.
"His ball technique is superb but, most importantly, he can react to how the game develops. At the last possible moment in any situation he can find the ideal solution. There are a lot of ways that Messi can finish an attack.
"On the other hand, he is also only human and, if we perform to 100 per cent, we will be able to defend against him."