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Champions League Semi-Final

Rafa looks to quell striker Blues

Rafael Benitez recognises Chelsea must be more clinical if they are to achieve their European and domestic objectives.

Last Updated: 27/04/13 at 14:01 Post Comment   

Benitez: Eyes Europa League glory and a top-four finish

Benitez: Eyes Europa League glory and a top-four finish

Rafael Benitez recognises Chelsea must be more clinical if they are to achieve their objectives in the Europa League and Premier League.

Fernando Torres last scored a Premier League goal before Christmas, while Demba Ba has two goals in the competition since arriving from Newcastle in January.

There are mitigating circumstances, but it is undeniable Chelsea should expect more from their strike force.

As Ba is ineligible in European competition, Torres has been used sparingly domestically, and the former Newcastle striker is in line to return against Swansea tomorrow.

Chelsea were denied victory at Liverpool last Sunday by Luis Suarez's 97th-minute goal and while it is argued the Uruguayan should not have been on the pitch following his bite on Branislav Ivanovic, the visitors would have expected to hold on to win.

Benitez's side were profligate at times in Thursday night's 2-1 Europa League semi-final first leg win at Basle and the Spaniard knows chances must be converted against Swansea for his side to consolidate their top-four position.

"Always when you have a lot of chances you want to be more clinical," Benitez said.

"It's something we have seen during the season, a lot of games where we were doing well in attack and still we didn't take our chances."

Fingers have been pointed at Torres and Ba, but Benitez has always praised the work-rate and influence of his lone striker set-up - the duo have rarely been seen on the pitch at the same time - whether they have been on the scoresheet or not.

Torres hit the post against Basle, when David Luiz's last-gasp free-kick goal earned victory.

Torres was not the only player to spurn an opportunity as Eden Hazard and Ramires also were denied and John Terry had a header saved by Yann Sommer at point-black range in stoppage-time.

The Blues took the advantage in the tie, though, as Luiz's strike earned the win after Victor Moses' opener had been cancelled out following the award of a soft penalty converted by Fabian Schar.

"We had some good chances," Benitez said.

"We scored one and after we had two or three chances to score a second goal and a lot of counter attacks we couldn't finish, so I think it could have been even better.

"I was disappointed with the penalty. It could change everything.

"It was a surprise for everyone but the reaction was quite positive and I think we deserved to win."

The Europa League is Chelsea's third semi-final of the season and in the first, Swansea overcame the odds to beat the European champions and go on to lift the Capital One Cup.

The bid to avenge that tie is one of the intriguing sub-plots of tomorrow's match.

Benitez merely wants to win whoever the opposition as he knows Chelsea's fate in their bid to qualify for the Champions League is in their own hands.

"It doesn't matter the name of the other team," Benitez said.

"We have to win because we want to be in the top four, top three.

"Swansea's a good team, but we are a good team and we want to win.

"It doesn't matter which team we will play against."

A win against Swansea would be welcome at Stamford Bridge after the events of a February night at the Liberty Stadium, when Hazard was dismissed and suspended for kicking a ball boy.

There is also the matter of Mark Clattenburg refereeing Chelsea for the first time since last autumn's racism row involving John Obi Mikel, when the official was accused of using "inappropriate language" but later cleared by the Football Association.

Mikel was an unused substitute in Switzerland and may come into the starting XI as Benitez prepares to rotate his squad once more, with next Thursday's return with Basle in mind.

It appears likely Benitez is entering the final month of his Chelsea tenure, whatever the conclusion to the season brings, and his Swansea counterpart Michael Laudrup is one of the names mentioned as a possible long-term successor in another sub-plot to the on-field action.


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