Laudrup: We have nothing to fear
8th January 2013
Michael Laudrup insists his players have nothing to fear as they prepare for Wednesday night's Capital One Cup semi-final against Chelsea (7.45pm).
The Swans head to Stamford Bridge for the first leg before welcoming the Blues to the Liberty Stadium in a fortnight's time.
Wednesday's clash comes on the back of Sunday's 2-2 draw against Arsenal in the FA Cup, in what is already a busy period for the club on three fronts.
And after a positive couple of months in which the Swans have lost just twice in 15 games, Laudrup believes his squad can head into the tie with great confidence after reaching a major semi-final for the first time in 48 years.
"It's a very important game for everyone at the club," he said. "But we have good confidence when we play against the big teams.
"We played four very different games over the Christmas and New Year period, and we didn't lose one - that breeds confidence.
"The last two months have been very positive for us, we have only lost twice in that time and we have a great spirit within the squad.
"Tomorrow's game is only the first half, and we must take it one step at a time.
"We know it will be difficult over two games, but we will give it our best shot. I'm hoping that the confidence we have built up recently can help us along the way."
Chelsea reached the semi-finals after a comfortable 5-1 win over Leeds back in December, with interim boss Rafa Benitez looking for his first trophy since arriving back in English football.
The former Liverpool manager took over following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo, and the decision was met with mixed opinion from the Stamford Bridge faithful.
But Michael Laudrup is under no illusions as to how tough it will be to overcome the Blues and reach a Wembley final.
"He (Benitez) came in at a difficult time, and it's clear that we wasn't loved by all the fans at the beginning," he said. "But he is very professional.
"They (Chelsea) are playing very well at the moment, so we know it's going to be a difficult game. But we knew that when the draw was made.
"It is a huge game for the club and to be so close to a final is fantastic."
The last time Swansea reached a major semi-final was back in 1964 when they lost to Preston in the FA Cup at Villa Park.
Since then the club has experienced a number of highs and lows, but the current era is one that will go down in history.
And with the Swans celebrating their Centenary this season, Michael Laudrup is hoping that the current squad can create their own piece of history by reaching a final.
"Some of the results we have had this season have been historic," he said. "But we are right in the middle of the season and we are competing in three competitions. That is the price you pay for success.
"But it is important that we get a result tomorrow to bring back to the second leg at home, with the possibility of reaching the final in front of our fans. That would be great."
The two sides last met back in November, when Pablo Hernandez scored a late equaliser to secure a 1-1 draw at the Liberty.
But the Swans head to Stamford Bridge with the hosts in good form. Following their return from the World Club Championship, Chelsea have lost just once in the last six games - a shock 1-0 defeat against Queens Park Rangers.
Key to that success has been the form of midfielder Juan Mata, with the Spanish international scoring 13 goals so far this season.
And while Laudrup acknowledged the attacking prowess of Chelsea, he believes his own players will rise to the occasion, no matter what side he picks.
"They have great offensive potential," he said. "(Juan) Mata is a key player for them because he can go one on one and has great vision from midfield.
"But let's just wait and see what we can do. Even if we make changes, we will be competitive.
"The only player who I can tell you who will start is Gerhard (Tremmel). He started the competition and he will finish it."
Swans fans have until 11am on Wednesday (Jan 9) to purchase tickets for the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg against Chelsea.
Tickets can be purchased overnight online, via 0844 815 6665 or in person at the Ticket Office.
Supporters who need to collect these late tickets at Stamford Bridge need to inform the Liberty Stadium ticket office by 11am.
Tickets are priced: £25 adults; £12 concessions (there are no student prices available for this leg).