• Champions League

Di Matteo shoulders blame for defeat

ESPN staff
November 21, 2012
Roberto Di Matteo is facing pressure from fans after Chelsea's third consecutive match without a win © Getty Images

Roberto Di Matteo has accepted the blame for Chelsea's 3-0 loss to Juventus on Tuesday which could see the Blues become the first Champions League holders not to progress past the group stage.

Chelsea need to beat FC Nordsjaelland on the final matchday and hope that Shakhtar Donetsk defeat Juve if they are to have any hope of qualifying from Group E.

Di Matteo has come under pressure in recent weeks and his woes were compounded when Chelsea suffered a 2-1 loss to West Brom at the weekend.

The Italian sent a warning to his underperforming players by dropping Fernando Torres from the starting line-up in Turin, but the change in tactics proved ineffective and Di Matteo has taken responsibility for the loss.

"I'm responsible for the result. I'm responsible for the performance. It's a negative evening for us," he said. "If anyone has to take the blame, it's me. I selected a team I was convinced was the right team to win against Juventus, or get at least a draw, so the blame belongs to me. I'm responsible for positive and negative results. This is what I do."

Despite Di Matteo leading Chelsea to the FA Cup and Champions League during his short tenure, there are still calls for him to resign.

The 42-year-old took more than an hour to emerge for his post-match press conference and he failed to respond to questions about whether it would be unfair for Chelsea to sack him.

"I'm the wrong person to answer that question," he said. "At the moment, I think, with the team, we are all in it together. At the moment, I am here and I think I will be for the future. As far as I'm concerned, I'll keep working."

Rumours in the British media suggest former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez could be installed as Chelsea manager until the end of the season if Stamford Bridge chiefs cannot persuade former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola to take over right away.

In his hour of need, Di Matteo has found an ally in an unlikely location, with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger suggesting the Chelsea manager is a victim of quick-fire judgements from fans and the media.

"We live in a world that has become completely emotional," Wenger said. "If you have one defeat, you hear people saying get him out, get the player out, get the manager out.

"We have this situation with Di Matteo right now. He just won the Champions League and the FA Cup a few months ago and look at the speculation. Things turn around so quickly these days. One minute you are the hero, the next minute you don't know what you do."

Juventus only need a point in Ukraine to finish second in the group and goalkeeper Gigi Buffon believes they will be buoyed by a convincing result against Chelsea.

"It's wonderful, like many other victories with Juve. But when you give such a convincing performance in tactical, physical, psychological terms it's a great sign for Juve and for Italy," Buffon told Sky Sports Italia. "Some had doubts on us, but playing like this I think we cast those aside.

"We have our certainties and know that we still have to qualify. I hope we can do that. We won in every area tonight. We were hungrier, sharper, more attacking, more creative and with a little more precision could've scored even more."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.