Mata expects difficult encounter against Shakhtar

The Spain international believes the club have their work cut out for them versus the Ukrainian champions, but praised the influence of his manager Roberto Di Matteo for their form
Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata expects a tough encounter against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday night, but believes the team are playing well and can come away with a positive result.

The Blues face the Ukrainian champions, who currently boast a 100% domestic record and with both clubs on equal points at this stage, the match could decide the eventual winner of Group E.

However the 24-year-old believes his team are in just as strong a position and if they can continue to play with the same verve they have been exhibiting in the Premier League, they can come away with all three points.

"I think it is going to be a fight for the ball," said Mata. "They are a team with quality players, quality in the midfield area and in their league they always have the ball and a lot of chances to score.

"So tomorrow we will try to play our football as we did in the last two months, enjoy ourselves and the level we are playing at. We expect a rival team always wanting the ball."

The Spain international also reserved special praise for his manager Roberto Di Matteo, lauding the influence and insight the Italian brings to the team and their preparation for every game, and believes the former assistant manager deserves more credit.

"Robbie knows very well the team, and the club as well. He used to be a legend here and now as a manager he connects very well with the team. In every meeting he goes deep inside each one of us, talking about every game, and it's very important to be ready for every competition.

"He knows how important it is for the club to play these games, to win the Champions League like last season, so for us he is the perfect manager."

The Chelsea boss spoke of his enjoyment in his current managerial position and reserved praise for the footballing philosophy of Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu, who managed in Serie A during the former midfielder's time at Lazio.

"I remember watching his teams a lot in the past and he has always played with the same philosophy,' said Di Matteo.

"Quick, possession football and you can see Shakhtar Donetsk want to play out from the back with the goalkeeper and with a lot of tactically good and fast players. He is an excellent coach with a lot of experience and he has done extremely well here at Shakhtar.

"I am just happy to be leading this group and working with these players and working for the club that I have in my heart,' added the Chelsea manager.

"The players deserve all the credit as it has been extremely difficult last season and also this season with integrating players and our system of play. I am just here to help and do my job well as I can and hopefully we can continue for a long time."