Di Matteo says Villas Boas deserves credit

TONY JIMINEZ
Last updated 14:48 19/05/2012

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A selfless Roberto Di Matteo will share the glory with predecessor Andre Villas-Boas if Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, the interim coach said today.

Di Matteo was appointed in a caretaker capacity when an under-achieving Villas-Boas was sacked in March, but he said the Portuguese would deserve as many plaudits as him if the Londoners lifted the biggest prize in European football tomorrow (NZ time).

"I have to give Andre credit too and we would all share the victory with him if we win," the Italian told a news conference at Bayern's Allianz Arena. "Andre laid the foundations for this."

Asked for the umpteenth time in the last three months how important a win would be for his own long-term job prospects, Di Matteo replied: "I just try to think about the team.

"I feel responsible for the club. It is a bit unselfish, but that is how I feel."

Di Matteo will wait until after Friday evening's training session before deciding his lineup, but said he was hopeful fitness doubts David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Florent Malouda would be available to play in the final.

Frank Lampard is to deputise for John Terry as captain, after the England defender was suspended for his sending off in the semi-final victory over Barcelona.

Di Matteo said he could not wish for a better man to lead the Chelsea team.

"Frank has been amazing," said the former Italian international. "He has risen to the occasion when we needed him.

"In the Nou Camp he was outstanding. He led the group (after Terry was dismissed) and he is a natural leader.

"You might not always look at him like that, but when you need him, the man is there. He is a proper man," added Di Matteo.

Chelsea have never won Europe's elite club competition and will be the underdogs on Saturday. Bayern lifted the trophy in 1974, 1975, 1976 and 2001 and the powerful Germans are playing on home soil.

Di Matteo acknowledged Bayern are "slight favourites", but said his players were equally as capable as the opposition.

"They are playing in their stadium, so they know the environment, the pitch and the dressing room," he explained.

"But we have excellent players in our team and I think we have almost the same chance as Bayern. I am very positive and very confident and I believe our players have all the qualities you need to win this competition."

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- Reuters

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