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Fear Factor

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Lampard hails fear factor of Hiddink as key to Chelsea's resurgence

The reason for Chelsea's resurgence is ­simple according to Frank Lampard. It is fear; Guus Hiddink has stuck a rocket under the dressing room. The still ­temporary head coach has made the players scared; of him, of losing and, worse, of failing to fulfil potential.

"He has something special," Lampard said. "He commands respect but also has a certain aura. All the great coaches I've worked with give you fear and Hiddink is one of them. The manager's made quite subtle differences, he's a clever man, he doesn't want to come in mid-season and make huge differences. The main thing is the players have to respond and the players are responding."

The 30-year-old midfielder also feels English clubs have now found the ­cunning needed to storm the continent. "A few years ago English teams [were] slightly more naive than European sides and that's why we didn't always have great success. But now there's much more tactical awareness, especially when we come away," he said.

"First, try to be strong and tactically strong. Second, try to score goals. All the English teams now in the tournament are obviously doing it well because they're going pretty far every year."

Yet, when Uefa swirls the balls of the eight remaining Champions League clubs in Geneva a week tomorrow, mapping out the paths from the quarter-finals to May's showdown in Rome, Lampard, his Chelsea might be expected to hope they are not coupled again with one particular English team.

Drawing Rafael Benítez's Liverpool would mean the teams meeting for a fourth time in five seasons. More to the point, beyond any serial ennui, Liverpool's 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid on Tuesday suggests avoiding them for as long as possible offers the better chance of prospering.

Yet suggest Chelsea might wish to swerve the Merseysiders and Lampard displays calm confidence in where the team are heading under Hiddink. " Maybe Liverpool don't want to play us either," he said. "I think everyone's a bit fed up of that one. But fate says that it could happen and we'll see. If it happens, you have to deal with it there and then."

Judging by Lampard's response to a suggestion that all remaining clubs would want to avoid Chelsea, he is conscious any of the teams left in the competition could all too easily finish their own hopes of winning the European Cup.

"I don't know – maybe, maybe not. When we look around there's not a team you can say: 'I fancy playing them.' There's not too many weak teams you can pick out and say : 'Oh, I'd love to draw them.'

"Maybe teams are thinking that about us, but we're thinking it about everyone else. At this stage of the competition you know you're going to draw a strong team and have to play well to go through."

Chelsea's elimination of Juventus on Tuesday was impressive for its display of rhino-tough mentality, the insistence that somehow, despite a shaky start, it was destined to be only one club's night.

Vincenzo Iaquinta's 19th-minute strike which levelled the tie further rocked visitors whose midfield trident of Lampard, Michael Ballack and Michael Essien had begun by meandering while Alessandro Del Piero, playing in deep midfield, propelled his Juventus side forward.

Didier Drogba's wrongly disallowed goal from a free-kick at the end of the half was a further test. Essien, starving for big-time football after his long injury, answered it when scoring seconds later. Drogba, too, found his own response after Del Piero's second-half penalty, to make it 2-2 on the night and secure a fine 3-2 aggregate win.

"That's the only way to win the Champions League and Premier League — to have spirit," said Lampard, who was keen to talk up players' responsibility.

"There are moments in games like the free-kick and the penalty, but we kept going and that's a good sign. At times this season we maybe didn't quite have it and it showed. Tonight and the last five or six games we've showed that, when we're together,, when we've got spirit, when we've got the quality that we've got in the team, we can go wherever we want."

Lampard may not have conceded the Premier League yet but he left it to his team-mate Michael Ballack, to reiterate how tough it will be tough to catch the champions.

"Seven points behind Manchester United, and they have one game in hand so realistically it's very difficult to catch them in the next weeks," the German said. "But we try our best, we have to win our games for the second place to qualify for the Champions League. And, if they drop points we should be there."

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