Mata: We're all behind Rafa

Juan Mata has mounted a passionate defence of Rafa Benitez ahead of Chelsea's Europa League semi-final against Basel.

Last Updated: 02/05/13 at 20:44 Post Comment

Juan Mata: Comes out in defence of Rafa Benitez ahead of Basel clash

Juan Mata: Comes out in defence of Rafa Benitez ahead of Basel clash

The interim manager is within 90 minutes of delivering the Champions League holders' second successive European final appearance, and his side take a 2-1 lead into Thursday's home leg.

But the build-up to the second leg has been overshadowed by Jose Mourinho's strongest hint yet he could return to Chelsea this summer, and Benitez was forced to field persistent questions about his one-time rival at his pre-match press conference.

Asked for a player's perspective on Mourinho's possible return, Mata instead chose to talk up the qualities of the man still in possession of the manager's job.

He said: "Rafa has had great seasons at every club he has been at. Since he came here, he's tried to do his best.

"For me and the rest of the players, he's a great manager. We are fighting for third place in the league and with a chance to win a trophy.

"So maybe the season in the end will look good for us and maybe for Rafa. And that will be because of the job he has done.

"Whether he is given more time or not doesn't depend on me. All I can say is that we are all working really, really well with Rafa."

David Luiz's last-minute winner in Switzerland means Basel must score twice at Stamford Bridge to stand any chance of reaching this month's Amsterdam final.

But Murat Yakin's side managed just that on their last trip to London, when they left Tottenham with a 2-2 draw, and Mata is wary of the visitors' attacking threat.

"It's going to be a dangerous game," he said. "Even though we have two goals away, a great result, it's that kind of game that can be very risky.

"If we don't go into the game thinking about winning, thinking about defending well, thinking about trying to win again, it's going to be difficult.

"We still know we have to fight if we're going to be in the final. We got a great result in Switzerland, but now we have to play another 90 minutes and I'm sure they're not going to give up. They're a team who try until the end. It will be tough, for sure."

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

T

his is all good fun, but anyone who thinks United are 4th best in England for anything more than a blip is properly f***ing mental. And Domenech is properly f***ing mental.

megabrow (cufc)
Schneiderlin must join United - Domenech

I

f the answer is Matt Phillips, the question should never be Who is one of your major transfer targets?

jelasfirsttouch
The Twosome Gossip

I

s this Chris Smalling playing the 'Race' card?

hump3.
Smalling wants United race

Footer 365

Roberto Firmino eyeing trophy success at Liverpool after saying bye to Hoffenheim

Liverpool's £29m summer signing Roberto Firmino hopes to celebrate "a lot of success" at Anfield and 'can't wait test himself in the Premier League'.

Manchester United 'agree Matteo Darmian fee with Torino'

Manchester United have agreed a fee with Torino for Italy right-back Matteo Darmian, according to Sky Italia sources.

Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba not joining Barcelona this year

Barcelona have insisted they are "not planning" a move for Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba this calendar year.

Mail Box

Doesn't Delph To Arsenal Make More Sense?

We have reaction to our Top Ten regarding Philipp Lahm and Dave Mackay, why we all love Harry Kane, Fabian Delph to Arsenal and what United can get away with...

Why Is Kane More Likeable Than Carrick?

A Mailbox which covers topics including Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero, Robin van Persie, handballs, transfer reporting and Rodgers bingo. It's not us being mean...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company