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Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 12:28 UK

Angry Drogba hits back at Benitez

Didier Drogba
Drogba has told Benitez to concentrate on his own team

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba says he has lost respect for Rafael Benitez after the Liverpool boss claimed he had a dossier of his 'diving' antics.

Ahead of the sides' Champions league semi-final second leg, Drogba furiously hit back at the accusation.

Drogba told French newspaper L'Equipe: "Benitez was a manager I respected a lot. He has really disappointed me.

"Until now, I found him very competent and also classy. A top boss would never go so low to attack a player."

Drogba came in for criticism over his conduct following last week's first leg, which finished 1-1.

But the Ivory Coast international believes it is unjustified and suspects the motives behind Benitez's comments.

"Perhaps he is looking for something to destabilise us before the match," Drogba said.

He added: "If he wants me to stay on my feet, maybe he should tell his defenders to stop hitting me.

"In the first leg, (Jamie) Carragher and the other one (Martin Skrtel) didn't stop. And not just with me. I finished the match with bruises everywhere.

"Last year, I broke a rib against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final. Strangely, that escapes the statistics of Benitez.

"It will not affect me. If I fall, I will always get up. The best response I can give will be on the pitch."

606: DEBATE
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Chelsea boss Avram Grant has already defended his player, insisting Drogba is not a cheat.

Grant said: "I don't think he is a diver at all. He's a good player. He's a powerful player, so the referee needs to look at what happens to him more."

"He looks so powerful, defenders think there are other ways to stop him.

But Grant feels Benitez is playing mind games and instead turned the focus on the defensive tactics used by Liverpool's defenders against Drogba in that game.

"If you look at the video and see what Jamie Carragher did to him in the first game, you will see the referee was very polite," said Grant.

"In the first half of the first game, the referee could easily have given a yellow card to Carragher to get him banned for this match.

"It could have been offside for Ryan Babel in the build-up to their goal, even if he was not involved in the goal."

"I think he (Benitez) is trying to take attention from this.

"Rafa can say whatever he wants to say. I say what I think. Ask him why he's saying that. I think the reason is clear.

"One way to stop him is to use power more than ever. I think he has tried to affect the referee so he does not do his job."

It's very important for the club to create history for Chelsea

Avram Grant

Liverpool had the relative luxury of resting players when they drew with Birmingham at the weekend, while Chelsea fought hard to overcome Premier League title rivals Manchester United on Saturday.

But Grant says he was happier to play a meaningful match instead of going through the motions and wants a repeat result.

"First, I am very glad that we had a game that was important for us and we didn't need to rest players," said Grant.

"Of course, it's sometimes an advantage, but I don't think it will disturb us when it comes to the game.

I don't like other coaches speaking about my players - Avram Grant

"On Saturday we wanted to show that we can play like champions. We wanted to do that. But this is another game, a Champions League semi-final. We want to do it in this game."

Chelsea have never gone beyond the last four of the Champions League and Grant says he is determined to see his side crowned European champions this term.

"The dream of everybody is the Champions League," Grant explained. "This is the top. We've gone a long, long way. It has not been easy up to this game.

"The target is the Champions League, for sure. You cannot say it's more important than other competitions, but it's very important for the club and I'm here to sell the club.

"Chelsea wants to be a big club. When you want to be a big club, you need to win the Champions League. It's very important for the club to create history for Chelsea."


see also
Chelsea have the edge - Gerrard
29 Apr 08 |  Europe
Chelsea v Liverpool (1-1)
29 Apr 08 |  Europe
Hyypia hoping to take on Chelsea
28 Apr 08 |  Liverpool
Riise vows to come back stronger
24 Apr 08 |  Liverpool
Reds 'can halt jinx at Chelsea'
23 Apr 08 |  Europe
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
22 Apr 08 |  Europe


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