John Terry has warned Chelsea's European rivals that his side are finally in the right frame of mind to fight for UEFA Champions League glory.
Carlo Ancelotti's team had been stuck in a rut for several months as injuries and poor form derailed their attempt to retain the Premier League title, but they have rediscovered their momentum just in time to push for victory in Europe's elite club competition. Terry believes the turning point was Chelsea's 2-1 win over Manchester United, a result which may have come too late to reignite a title challenge but has definitely lifted morale at the west London club.
Although the Chelsea captain still harbours hopes of overhauling United, Terry knows a successful run in the Champions League is a more realistic aim. The Blues go into Wednesday's last 16 second leg against Copenhagen at Stamford Bridge already within touching distance of the quarter-finals after beating the Danish champions 2-0 in the first leg.
"We won't give up chasing or fighting. All we can do is win our own games, keep going to the end and see what happens at the top," Terry said. "Our fans have kept faith with us this season and we owe it to the supporters to finish the season strongly, showing the quality we have and picking up big results."
If, as expected on the evidence of a one-sided first leg, Chelsea cruise past Copenhagen, the draw for the last eight should hold few fears for Terry and company. Barcelona are the one team the other side sides would like to avoid, but even they have had difficulties against Chelsea in the past.
Terry has more reason than any other player at Chelsea to want to win the Champions League. The England defender still has trouble talking about the penalty miss against Manchester United which cost the Blues so dearly in the 2008 final and it would be a career-defining moment if he could lift the trophy at Wembley in May. "We could still make this a good season and we're up for the challenge," Terry added. "It's time to show what we're capable of. This is a massive time for us."
The prospect of Sunday's vital Premier League game against Manchester City - who are battling Chelsea for a place in the top four - could persuade Ancelotti to rest one or two players, but he is likely to keep Fernando Torres in his line-up. Torres has failed to score in his first five games since his British record £50 million transfer from Liverpool and the visit of Copenhagen represents another opportunity to break his duck.
The Spain striker has looked just as tentative for Chelsea as he did for much of the season with Liverpool, sparking suggestions that he is homesick, while others claim he can't cope with the pressure of such a big transfer fee. Those accusations would easily be dismissed with a strong end to the season and Torres's fellow Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou is convinced he will come good soon.
"I don't think he has pressure, he's a top striker and he has been through that kind of thing before," Kalou said. "He has changed teams in the middle of the season, which is never easy, so I think he is going to need time to adapt. He's going to play and you can only have pressure on you if you're not playing the next game and not scoring. He's going to have the opportunity and he's a top striker."