Ayala aims to win Drogba duel
By Francisco Acedo
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Roberto Ayala has told <EM>skysports.com</EM> that he is ready to do battle with Didier Drogba again.
Roberto Ayala has exclusively told skysports.com how he hopes to win his personal duel with Didier Drogba on Tuesday night and help steer Valencia through to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
Drogba scored Chelsea's equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge as he took advantage of Ayala's misjudgement to head a long ball past Santiago Canizares and give The Blues a foothold in the tie.
The Ivorian will again carry the greatest threat for Jose Mourinho's side at the Mestalla, but Ayala insists he is relishing the chance to do battle with the 30-goal striker once more.
Valencia's experienced stopper was victorious over Drogba in the 2004 Uefa Cup final, when the striker played for Marseille, and was also in the Argentina team that defeated Ivory Coast 2-1 at the World Cup in Germany last summer.
"Drogba is a dangerous striker, the other day he profited from an opening to score a goal," Ayala told skysports.com. "That is his quality and I am prepared for the battle in the Mestalla on Tuesday.
"I am not a friend of statistics but I desire to have another success against Drogba.
"This will be the fourth meeting in club and national games, but it is never easy to stop the African. Today he is one of the best strikers in Europe.
"Drogba is a big striker but I do not fear him. During my career I have played and beaten better strikers than the Ivorian.
"In football it is men against men and I have never been afraid on the field. An Argentinian player is ready for anything."
Valencia hold the advantage courtesy of their away goal, but Ayala insists there will be no complacency creeping into Quique Sanchez Flores' squad ahead of the second leg in Spain.
"This elimination is not decided. For Valencia it will be a fatal error to believe that after the tie in London we have qualified for the next round," Ayala added.
"Now I expect a hard match in Valencia with more complications than at Stamford Bridge.
"In the second round, Inter were the favourites and now the situation is similar. People expect Chelsea to reach the semi-finals but after 90 minutes the ball is in our court.
"Valencia will exploit this and play with intelligence. That is our main advantage."
A tumultuous 0-0 home draw with Internazionale was enough for Valencia to book their place in the quarter-finals, but Ayala believes the Che will not be adopting a defensive mentality against a Chelsea side whose powers he believes have waned.
Indeed, the experienced defender believes he can undo the pain of consecutive final defeats in 2000 and 2001 before he joins Villarreal in the summer.
"A defensive match at home to maintain the 1-1? Impossible, that will be madness. Valencia is offensive and does not know the word fear.
"Sincerely I have never ruled out beating Chelsea because this season I have viewed some games and The Blues are not the same power as last year.
"This is my last season at Valencia and I desire to play in a Champions League final and revenge the two defeats in my career."