Di Matteo’s team finished a memorable week that started with an epic Champions League semi-final triumph over Barcelona by demolishing west London Premier League rivals QPR 6-1 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The Blues would qualify for next season’s Champions League if they beat Bayern Munich at the German club’s Allianz Arena on May 19, but interim boss Di Matteo doesn’t want to rely on that and is determined to keep his players focused on the top four battle in the English Premier League.
Chelsea are one point behind both fourth-placed Tottenham – who scored a crucial 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Blackburn Rovers on Sunday – and fifth-placed Newcastle, who visit the Bridge on Wednesday. Di Matteo believes his players are in the mood to snatch the last guaranteed spot in Europe’s elite club competition.
“It’s great for the club that we have all these players full of confidence and everybody wants to play,” Di Matteo said.
“The whole team looks full of confidence and that is the only way we can be successful.
“After Champions League games, the next Premier League match often proves difficult, so the team surprised me.
“I was hoping for a good performance but I wasn’t expecting that. They really put in a great performance.”
No player sums up the dramatic improvement in Chelsea’s fortunes under Di Matteo more than Fernando Torres, who followed up his crucial late goal in Barcelona with a hat-trick against QPR.
It was the kind of lethal display which persuaded Blues owner Roman Abramovich to pay a British record £50 million ($A78.2 million) to sign him 15 months ago and the Russian delightedly exchanged high fives with his friends in the stands after Torres completed his first treble since September 2009.
“I was always pleased with his contribution,” Di Matteo said. “But I’m pleased for him that he scored a hat-trick. It’s great for his confidence.”
Now Di Matteo must choose between the resurgent Torres and Didier Drogba, who was rested against QPR, when Newcastle come to west London in midweek.
Although the FA Cup final against Liverpool is looming on Saturday, Di Matteo plans to field a strong team.
“We have to try to win the next game as well to have a chance to finish fourth,” he said.
While Chelsea have plenty to look forward to, QPR face a nervous finale as they try to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.
Mark Hughes’ side are above the relegation zone only on goal difference and must beat Stoke at home next weekend before a daunting final game of the season at Manchester City.
“At times, we were a little bit naive. We need a radical rethink in the way we approach away games,” Hughes said.
“It is difficult to say how this affects the relegation battle. We have damaged our goal difference, but hopefully results will go for us.”
Rafael van der Vaart struck in the 22nd minute before Kyle Walker’s brilliant free-kick 15 minutes from time sealed Tottenham’s victory at White Hart Lane as Harry Redknapp’s men won for just the second time in 10 league games.
“(The battle for fourth) is going to be close and tight. You can’t see Chelsea losing – they are playing great,” Redknapp said.
“We have got two tough away games at Bolton and Villa and then Fulham at home. It’s going to be interesting.”