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

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

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."

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

want to spend more time with my tit-for-tat Autobiographies . He probably didn't say.

megabrow (cufc)
Keane leaves Aston Villa

B

elieve in the dream Ashley. I have a hot tub, I still think I can get all The Saturdays in there for nekkid sexyfuntime. Failing that, Adele.

hump3.
Young: Man United target title

C

onclusions...we are truely living the dream now

dead yeti
Take Your Marks In The Premier League Sack Race

Footer 365

Premier League: Swansea manager Garry Monk defends Liverpool's Brendan Rodgers

Swansea manager Garry Monk has leapt to the defence of under-fire Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers.

Premier League: West Brom manager Alan Irvine sees a defensive weakness in Arsenal

West Brom manager Alan Irvine hopes Arsenal's gung-ho attitude will be their undoing at The Hawthorns on Saturday.

Premier League: Southampton manager Ronald Koeman confident of continued success

Manager Ronald Koeman believes Southampton can thrive this term and is relishing taking on the Premier League big boys.

Mail Box

Don't Write Arsenal Off Yet (For Third)

That's the message from the afternoon mailbox, which also suggests Manchester City should look to bin Manuel Pellegrini. Can he take them any further?

Sanchez: A Sliding Doors Moment For Pool

One Liverpool fan regrets the club's failure to sign Alexis Sanchez and thinks Brendan Rodgers and Co should now target the domestic cups. A lot has changed in 12 months...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property