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Di Matteo defends Chelsea squad in wake of Lampard criticism

The Italian believes that there is a lot of quality in his side and is confident ahead of the club's Champions League quarter-final first-leg tie against Benfica

Chelsea interim boss Roberto Di Matteo has jumped to the defence of his players after Frank Lampard claimed that he and his team-mates "are not as good as we used to be".

The midfielder's assesment comes as Chelsea remain five points behind Tottenham in fourth place in the Premier League and are in danger of failing to secure a spot in the Champions League next season.

"The numbers say that, so there is no point in denying it's been a difficult season," said Di Matteo.

"But we have quality in this team and many good players. I still think this Chelsea team is a very good team."

Frank Lampard is 3/1 with Bet365 to score anytime when Chelsea face Benfica on Tuesday night.

The Blues face Benfica in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie on Tuesday evening and Di Matteo insists that his side can secure an advantage to take back to Stamford Bridge next month.

"It's a very fine line between success and failure, this team has the ability to play a good game tomorrow night," the Italian continued.

"Benfica play with great intensity and good pressure, have some excellent players, wouldn't be in the quarter-finals if not."

Despite Lampard's criticism, Di Matteo maintains that his side are buoyant ahead of the pressurised run-in.

"I am positive about the team, but my players are positive too," he added.

"We have great belief in our abilities. That's what we're going to try and express tomorrow."