'Chelsea will be motivated by defeat in 2005 - some players cried after that'

Djimi Traoré talks with The Guardian's Jeremy Wilson on April 24, 2007.


"We defended very well [in the semi-final of 2005]. The thing I remember was that some players from Chelsea started to cry after the game. We celebrated the qualification - it's not every day that you qualify for the Champions League final but the reaction was good from the [Chelsea] players. They wished me good luck. I understood - I would be the same when you lose in the semi-finals of the Champions League. I think that maybe it will be a motivation for them. It will be close. Liverpool are more experienced in European games compared with Chelsea. Some of the players play so many games in the Champions League and so many games in the Uefa [Cup] and some of them have won both trophies. When you see the Chelsea team it is not like everybody has won the Champions League or the Uefa Cup. When you see Liverpool, you see players like Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypia and Jerzy Dudek who have already won the medals. For me, maybe that can make the difference." 

The Anfield factor

"In the semi-final of 2005 it was the best atmosphere I have ever seen at Anfield. That night was crazy - unbelievable. It's a big difference at Anfield when you play in the Champions League from when you play in the league game. The supporters love it because the team have done so well in Europe. It's very exciting and the supporters do give you some extra - even when you are tired, you still keep going. The Kop has some of the best fans of the world, especially on a European night. I think the way Liverpool will approach the game is to go to Chelsea and try not to concede a goal like we did two years ago. To have the clean sheet at Stamford Bridge and then when you are in Anfield it is a different game."

The managers

"Liverpool have one of the best managers in the world - Rafael Benítez is a very, very great manager. All the time he analyses the opposition team very well. He would spend a lot of time telling you about the team you were playing during the week before the game - more than most other managers. He is very clever and he can see things. We worked hard tactically during the week before the game on the team and the shape of the team. Benítez is calm; he does not put pressure on the team. He never looks happy, even if you win the Champions League, he keeps calm. That is a strength for him. Jose Mourinho is totally different but we respect him when we see what he has done with Chelsea. To win the title two times and also what he did with Porto to win the Champions League, to win the Uefa Cup and the league. He is a big manager and he's clever. He protects his players by putting himself up front but sometimes he can upset the opposition team and give [them] more motivation. Some people can accept to lose, some it's hard for them and Mourinho is one of the people who does not like to lose. They are both good managers - and they have won every trophy."

The players

"I think it will be a very tactical game. Cup games are a different atmosphere and sometimes for Liverpool it is better. It's a tough game - everybody knows it is not the best game to watch because it is two defensive teams. When you have a player like Gerrard you know he can make the difference at any time. He is somebody that brings the spirit of the team - he is a very great leader - and Carragher is a very great leader in defence. For me Gerrard is one of the best players I have trained with and each year he is getting better and better. I think he will be even better next year. I also don't think Didier Drogba is the same player as two years ago. He is a different player, he scores more goals and he has more confidence. The game will be a challenge for the Liverpool defenders. I think Benítez will put a defensive team in the first leg and the second leg will be different. I don't see a lot of goals in the two legs. I fancy Liverpool, I'm their number one fan. I still have friends there and I wish the best for Liverpool."

Copyright - The Guardian

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