Frank Lampard has urged Chelsea to ignore the turmoil enveloping his struggling side as he invoked the memory of the Blues’ incredible run to Champions League glory in 2012.
Lampard is back in charge of Chelsea until the end of the season after replacing the sacked Graham Potter last week.
After watching Chelsea crash to a lacklustre 1-0 defeat at Wolves in his first game in charge on Saturday, Lampard takes it to Real Madrid for a daunting Champions League quarterfinal first leg on Wednesday.
Chelsea is languishing in 11th place in the Premier League after a dismal campaign that included Thomas Tuchel being sacked in September and Potter lasting only seven months before his dismissal.
The west Londoners have managed to progress to the last eight in Europe despite their wretched domestic form.
Knocking out holders Real would be a major upset, but Lampard knows all about defying the odds in the Champions League.
Lampard captained Chelsea in their unexpected run to Champions League triumph 11 years ago.
The Blues finished sixth during an underwhelming top-fight season, with Roberto Di Matteo replacing the axed Andre Villas-Boas in March.
But in the Champions League it overturned a 3-1 first leg deficit to beat Napoli in the last 16, then recovered from 2-1 down on aggregate in the semi-final second leg to eliminate Lionel Messi’s Barcelona despite a red card for John Terry on a memorable night in the Camp Nou.
In the final against Bayern Munich, they needed a last-gasp equaliser from Didier Drogba to set up a penalty shoot-out victory over the Germans in their own Allianz Arena stadium.
Repeating that fairytale success seems beyond Chelsea as they board their flight to Madrid, but Lampard insists anything can happen if his players show enough desire.
‘One of the best in the world’
“There’s a lot to it. Part of that was we parked the bus at the Nou Camp and managed to hang on for our dear lives! There are so many things, fate in different moments,” he said.
“But we did have a huge desire and a big character and a level of talent in the group that have been striving for years to win a Champions League, so that one you remember.
“A team and a group will always go through tough moments to get to great ones.”
Chelsea is without a win in its last four games and once again lacked a cutting edge in the Wolves defeat.
If Lampard’s men are stun Real in the Bernabeu, the Blues boss could do with a rare influential display from Raheem Sterling.
The England forward has struggled badly since his move from Manchester City last year.
Lampard recalled Sterling to face Wolves but there was little sign of the pace and trickery that made him such a force during his time at City.
Sterling, who has scored just seven times this term, did grab a crucial goal in the Champions League last 16 second leg win against Borussia Dortmund and Lampard believes he can still have a positive impact on Chelsea’s fortunes.
“Raheem has been there and done it and there’s history of producing,” Lampard said. “He’s been one of the best wingers in the world for a long time, at times, maybe in some people’s opinion, the best.
“He’s risen to games like that before in the past so that’s something we’ll obviously rely on in terms of this because some elements of the squad are maybe a bit younger.
“This game won’t faze him. I can’t remember how many times I’ve told young wingers; ‘watch Raheem Sterling and see why he scores 20 goals a season’. I just think he’s a top player.”