Sport : Football

Benitez taking Sparta seriously

13th February 2013, 07:14pm

Rafael Benitez: Europa League is a massive competition

Rafael Benitez: Europa League is a massive competition

Chelsea interim boss Rafael Benitez is determined that last season's Champions League winners take the Europa League seriously, beginning with the last-32 first leg at Sparta Prague on Thursday.

The match at the Generali Arena is Chelsea's first away fixture in Europe since Roberto Di Matteo was sacked following the holders' exit from the Champions League group stages.

"This is a massive city, massive club and a massive competition," Benitez said.

"We are really pleased to be here. Obviously, you cannot change things. The Champions League is a massive competition, but the Europa League is also a massive competition.

"We play against an historic team. We're really pleased and, for me, I try to give my players the right message.

"We know it will be tough. It's against a great team, a great club and a great city."

Benitez has a contract until the end of the season and would not look towards the possibility of taking permanent control should Chelsea win the Europa League.

"We have to concentrate on the future and the future is tomorrow," said Benitez, whose position could yet be under threat with four wins in 11 games.

"I cannot talk about what will happen in three months' time. We have to concentrate on this competition - it's quite difficult - and tomorrow will be a tough game, so that is my priority."

The Blues are at near full strength, with David Luiz suspended, Demba Ba ineligible and Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel rested following their African Nations Cup win with Nigeria.

Captain John Terry was the main fitness concern for Chelsea after missing the 4-1 Barclays Premier League win over Wigan with an inflammation on his knee. He is fit to be selected.

Benitez said: "There was no reaction to his knee (from training), that is positive. It's a question of time."


Click here for completely free £10 bet with Sky Bet & £5 free every week


Football Videos

    Carragher: Liverpool should drop Balotelli

    Carragher: Liverpool should drop Balotelli

    20-October-2014

    Jamie Carragher believes Brendan Rodgers needs to leave Mario Balotelli out of his starting line-up if Liverpool are to get a result against Real Madrid in the Champions League.

    Van Gaal: Best performance this season

    Van Gaal: Best performance this season

    20-October-2014

    Louis van Gaal insists Manchester United's performance at West Brom was their best yet this season and is disappointed with a draw.

    Fellaini elated with goal

    Fellaini elated with goal

    20-October-2014

    Marouane Fellaini says his first goal of the season in Manchester United’s 2-2 draw at West Brom was a long time coming after what has been a difficult period.

    Irvine hails team spirit

    Irvine hails team spirit

    20-October-2014

    Alan Irvine says for West Brom to be disappointed with a draw against Manchester United sums up how well they performed on Monday night.

    Sky Bet

      • Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds

    Facebook Favourites