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Tuesday, May 12, 1998 Published at 21:53 GMT 22:53 UK



Sport: Football

Chelsea prepare for Euro glory
image: [ Gianluca Vialli is likely to pick himself ]
Gianluca Vialli is likely to pick himself

Chelsea's preparations for their European Cup Winners' Cup final against Stuttgart on Wednesday have been boosted by the return of several key players to full fitness.


Frank Leboeuf on Chelsea's prospects for future success (0'52")
The west Londoners are hoping that by adding a European trophy to the two domestic cups they have won in the past two seasons, they can push to become a dominant force in the English game.


[ image: Will it be the Cup-Winners Cup this Wednesday?]
Will it be the Cup-Winners Cup this Wednesday?
Glenn Hoddle, Ruud Gullit and now Gianluca Vialli have brought Chelsea back from the wilderness to the position they enjoyed in the early 70s, when a sparkling side looked set to hit the peak of the English game.


Graeme Le Saux on Chelsea's chances of winning the cup (0'32")
A team containing the talents of Peter Osgood, Charlie Cooke, Peter Bonetti and John Hollins won the FA Cup in 1970 and beat Real Madrid to win the European Cup Winners' Cup a year later.

They were expected to become the leading force in the English game, but the team went into decline, split up, and were eventually relegated.


[ image: Roberto Di Matteo needs to keep his eye on the ball]
Roberto Di Matteo needs to keep his eye on the ball
But Bonetti believes that the current Blues team has the potential, not only to win in Stockholm, but to go on to challenge Manchester United and Arsenal at the top of the Premiership.

"Chelsea have got some side now under Luca," he said. "To me they look pretty formidable, with so much flair, and I really expect them to win, and win well.

"But I think this will just be the start for them as well. They won the FA Cup last season and were fourth this year, so they've proved their consistency.

"Now I feel they can go on to become the top side in England, no doubt about that at all.


Frank Leboeuf on Chelsea's chances of winning the cup (0'28")
Chelsea player manager Gianluca Vialli looks certain to have Gianfranco Zola available for selection at the Rasunda Stadium after recovering from a groin injury sustained against Liverpool a fortnight ago.


[ image: Graham Le Saux is fit again]
Graham Le Saux is fit again
Zola was sent back to Italy for specialist treatment on the injury, and he resumed full training on Monday.

If the little Italian comes through further training sessions in Sweden on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, he is likely to partner Vialli up front.

Zola himself feels he will be ready. "It seems to be okay now," he said. "The injury has improved a lot in the last few days and now I'm a lot more confident that I will be fit."

Vialli is trying to maintain some suspense over his likely line-up in Stockholm, although he has failed to convince most observers that he is unlikely to play.

The Italian scored his 19th of the season against Bolton, and six of those are in the Cup Winners' Cup.


Frank Leboeuf on the pitch. "It's like making love......" (0'38")
"I might play", he said. "I would like to play. That's my objective. Between now and Wednesday I have to try to understand if it might be better for me to be on the bench.

"Then again, I might decide that the kind of football I play will be better for the team than that of Tore-Andre Flo, Gianfranco, or Mark Hughes."


[ image: Stuttgart training in Stockholm]
Stuttgart training in Stockholm
Vialli has further good news in that Graeme Le Saux has recovered from his calf injury and Michael Duberry's abcess has healed, while Dennis Wise impressed in his 45 minutes against Bolton.


Frank Leboeuf on Stuttgart (0'42")
Stuttgart have been rocked by internal problems and look likely to dismiss manager Joachim Low this summer despite beating Werder Bremen on Saturday to qualify for the UEFA Cup should Chelsea beat them.


David Mellor says most of the locals in Stuttgart will be shouting for Chelsea (2'33'')
Star striker Fredi Bobic was sent off in a 1-0 win over Bremen but is free to face Chelsea, but they are without key defenders Frank Verlaat and Martin Spanring who are suspended after collecting two yellow cards apiece in earlier rounds of the Cup Winners' Cup.

Chelsea fans are likely to heavily outnumber German supporters after Stuttgart sent back three-quarters of their 12,000 ticket-allocation.
 





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