Posted on Mar 26
Chelsea defender David Luiz insisted Didier Drogba had not been mocking Benfica when he was filmed trembling theatrically after the Blues were drawn against the Portuguese giants.
In video shown on Chelsea's website shortly after the Champions League quarter-final pairings were announced, Ivory Coast striker Drogba could be seen shaking uncontrollably after the club were drawn with Benfica.
The footage has been viewed as a jibe against Benfica in some quarters, but Luiz revealed on Monday that Drogba's bizarre act was referencing the fact that Chelsea were on course to play Barcelona in the semi-finals.
"If people watch the video closely, it's not directed at Benfica, it was at Barcelona, because Barcelona are a big team," Luiz told reporters.
"It was not directed at Benfica because Didier knows that they are a big team and that Benfica are going to be difficult opponents."
Benfica coach Jorge Jesus meanwhile laughed off Drogba's antics, but pointedly took a swipe at the demise of English giants Manchester United and Manchester City against Portuguese opposition this season.
Benfica helped eliminate United in the first round of the Champions League while Sporting Lisbon dumped City out of the Europa League earlier this month.
"Mr Drogba? Who knows what he was thinking, he was probably joking," Jesus smiled. "But Benfica and Sporting eliminated England's top two teams from Europe this season so you can see that Portuguese football is strong.
"Any responses we give to Drogba will be given on the field."
Jesus also shrugged off the problems bedevilling Chelsea, who are struggling to qualify for next season's Champions League following a difficult season which saw the departure of Andre Villas-Boas earlier this month.
"It's not important. They are a team well-used to reaching finals of big competitions," Jesus said. "The change of coach doesn't change the quality and experience of the players that they have. They are used to reaching finals."
The Benfica coach also played down the significance of Benfica's formidable home record at the Stadium of Light, where they are unbeaten in 10 home matches in European competition.
"(The home record) is only a sign that we've played well all the way through the competition and a sign that we are working well," Jesus said.
"But the further we go the stronger the opposition gets so we're going to have to continue to be strong to keep winning.
"We're going to have to play a perfect game to win. At this time there are no favourites. Both teams are strong."