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'Only ignorant doubt Chelsea strikers'

ESPN staff
April 3, 2014 « Venus overcomes illness to advance | Test Wayin World Cup »
Lack of quality strikers means Chelsea are doomed in Champions League

Nemanja Matic has inadvertently put himself on a collision course with Jose Mourinho by claiming that only those ignorant about football would doubt the club's strikers.

The midfielder, speaking before his team's 3-1 Champions League defeat at PSG and the Chelsea manager's criticism of his forwards, defended his under-fire team-mates.

"People who say Chelsea don't have any good strikers don't know anything about football," Matic told the May issue of FourFourTwo. "We have three very good strikers: [Samuel} Eto'o, {Fernando] Torres, Demba Ba. People who say this cannot have watched football."

Nemanja Matic was ineligible for Chelsea's Champions League quarter final against PSG © Getty Images
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Mourinho has to be included in the Matic's critics category as he has repeatedly questioned their quality in one way or another this season.

In Paris, he talked of a lack of "real strikers" and lamented the fact that his Chelsea team are not potent enough in front of goal.

Mourinho has also gone on the record to confirm that he wants to buy a striker in the summer as he takes a "surgical" approach to a squad upgrade.

Matic was addressing comments made by the Portuguese earlier, however, when he was caught by TV cameras in February saying he had "a team but no striker" and that Eto'o "is 32, maybe even 35, I don't know!"

Mourinho has tried to make up with Eto'o since and the Cameroon striker was out injured as Chelsea went down in Paris on Tuesday night, when Torres was Mourinho's obvious target.

"[Mourinho's comment] was just a joke. He knows Eto'o better than anyone and knows he is an important player for us," Matic said. "You saw the celebration [when Eto'o pretended to be an old man after scoring against Tottenham last month] - it's just a joke.

"We have a lot of good players at Chelsea - Oscar and Willian, too, for example. We are strong in all positions, and this is why it is so good to be part of this team."

Matic, who recently praised Mourinho as one of the game's best managers, was no doubt trying to say what he thought was the right thing when he defended his team-mates.

Keeping to the right party line with an arch media manipulator as a manager must be difficult but at least they would concur on some of the other players Matic discussed.

Eden Hazard is Chelsea's top scorer in the Premier League from midfield with 14 goals this season and Matic, signed for £21 million from Benfica, said: "Eden is a great player, and very important for us.

"In any moment he can do something good for the team - he can score, he can assist. He has the quality to become one of the best in the world."

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