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Benitez taking Sparta seriously

Rafael Benitez is taking the Europa League seriously, beginning with Chelsea's last-32 first leg at Sparta Prague on Thursday.

Last Updated: 13/02/13 at 19:14 Post Comment

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."


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terling needs to be told though that upon entering the Arsenal squad he will re-enact the final scene from Highlander where he will be thrown around a warehouse by cartoon dragons and then be a mere mortal that will only ever spend three to four weeks a season playing football and the rest on the physio's bed. There can be only one.....player available at The Emirates.

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he game changed in our favour when Carrick came on. We were able to play further up the pitch due to having a player who can give and go with the ball and keep possession. Yet barkley made some runs and Townsend scored a good goal but carrick's inclusion and chiellini's withdrawal made the biggest difference to the flow of the game

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o, you've not silenced anyone Andros, i'm afraid. We know you can score a great goal, and it's really handy to have your direct running and willingness to shoot on the bench. But until you can do the other things expected of a winger (beat the man, put a decent cross in, stay wide etc) then you can't expect more than a regular cameo. Wonderful goal though, what a hit! No wonder Buffon wanted the shirt.

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