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

    Sir Alex pays tribute to Dave Mackay

    Sir Alex pays tribute to Dave Mackay

    03-March-2015

    Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute to former Tottenham and Hearts captain Dave Mackay.

    Sharpe - Wigan will remain the same

    Sharpe - Wigan will remain the same

    03-March-2015

    New Wigan chairman and Grandson of Dave Whelan, David Sharpe has vowed that the club needed to move on from Whelan resigning but admits he'd be stupid not to seek advice from his Grandad.

    Football discrimination increasing

    Football discrimination increasing

    03-March-2015

    Jamie Feldman of Stonewall FC, the UK's first gay football club, spoke to Sky Sports News HQ about discrimination rising but admits he's pleased that people are now unafraid of reporting such incidents.

    Hughes hits back at Bruce

    Hughes hits back at Bruce

    03-March-2015

    Stoke City manager Mark Hughes felt Steve Bruce's decision to defend the tackle from Maynor Figueroa on Stephen Ireland was 'incorrect'.

    Sky Bet

      • Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds

    Facebook Favourites