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Ancelotti demands early European progression

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Carlo Ancelotti has told Chelsea it is crucial they qualify for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

The Blues, who already sit five points clear at the top of the Premier League, can secure a spot in the European knockout stages with two games to spare if they clinch at least a point against Spartak Moscow at Stamford Bridge.

Further to that, a three-point haul against the Russian giants would see the reigning league champions claim the top spot in qualifying Group F by making it four wins from four.

Italian Ancelotti, whose team visit Liverpool four days after the Spartak clash, feels a good result on Wednesday night would be enough to fire a warning to their title rivals.

"It's very important to win this game," Ancelotti said in The People.

"We can qualify and claim first place. And that will allow us to stay more in focus in the Premier League as well.


"It's not just about resting players in the final games. Without pressure you can also have less problems mentally and physically which is good for the players. So it's very important to get three points.

"It will not be easy because in the away game they caused us a lot of problems."

Ancelotti is expecting another strong display from Yuri Zhirkov, who netted to help Chelsea to a 2-0 victory over Spartak in Moscow.

The Russian has struggled to establish himself at the Bridge since signing for £18million from CSKA Moscow last summer, but Ancelotti feels he is beginning to settle.

He said: "It's a big time for him. I think he also played well last year but now he is playing regularly. The goal in Moscow was good to improve his confidence."


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