What was the problem tonight, Cesar?
“We are normally a team that is quite solid, doesn’t concede many chances and many goals. In the last two games, we’ve conceded six goals and that is not good enough.
“We have to sort this problem and hopefully, we can do it from Saturday because I think it was a key part in our success as a team and we have to recover this solidity.”
You’ve been at Chelsea a long time and been in these difficult moments before. What do you think needs to change to get out of this one, is it to do with mentality?
“I know at Chelsea we have this ambition to win every game. We know a draw is not good enough and to finish second is where we want to be.
“We wanted to finish top of the group but we’re having a tough moment in the last couple of games where the performances haven’t been very good and the results are reflective of the performances.
“We have to have a reaction. We know there is still a lot to play but we lost top spot in the Premier League and top spot in our Champions League group. So we have to face the reality and analyse ourselves.
“We are not at our top level and we have to have a reaction on Saturday. Hopefully, with our fans in this difficult moment we get the win, have a good performance from the fist minute, and from there, start building our confidence because at the moment it’s true we’re making a lot of mistakes.”
It seemed Zenit made a lot of their chances in the first half in the zone between you and Callum Hudson-Odoi?
“Of course, we look to improve and not give a lot of chances. It is true that Zenit have very talented players with a lot of skills. They found a lot of spaces. We look at the game and we will try to analyse it.
“We have played together many times and we try to work our best. It is true it isn’t our best game but in football you accept it, analyse and improve next time. That’s on the training ground and on the pitch. From there, every one of us tries to get the best of everyone else.”
Last year, Chelsea went into December top of the Premier League and then things fell apart. Can you see any similarities?
“No. It is true, as you said, that in Chelsea, you don’t need a big number of defeats in a row to call it a bad period or a crisis. It is part of this club’s ambition to go into every competition with the ambition to compete at the top. Last season, in December, we were top of the group and top of the Premier League and we had a very bad run of results.
“Every year is different. We have different people, different players and it is just that we need everybody to get that extra percent as individuals and as a team.
“At the moment, we are making a lot of mistakes. We need to recover that high intensity, the solidity from the whole team to not concede chances. We have conceded too many and I think that the key for our success was to defend well to not concede chances to be ruthless in front of the goal. We need to recover this.
“In football, we are on the plane straight away and play again on Saturday and we have the chance to have a good game, a good performance from the first minute to the last and hopefully we can get a result and from there build and not drop any more points.”
There were a lot of changes to the team tonight, do you feel there was a lack of motivation or that you underestimated Zenit?
“We had to give our best. For some of us, it was a big opportunity; we were not playing lately so we had the chance to play for Chelsea in a Champions League game, to finish top of the table.
“Every time we go and step out on the pitch we have an amazing opportunity to show ourselves, to show that we are capable of helping the team and it hurts to concede a goal in the 94th minute when we have let two eyes… especially in the first half we played good for 15 minutes, 1-0 up and we dropped it could be 3-1, 4-1 before half time.
“There were a few minutes where we lost completely the pace of the game and when we had a good reaction in the second half we were leading just three minutes to go and hurts to concede three goals which is not us.”