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Benitez calls for focus

Rafael Benitez says he will play his strongest side in the UEFA Europa League semi-final second-leg tie against Basel on Thursday.

Chelsea won 2-1 in the away leg to give them the advantage going into the return fixture at Stamford Bridge.

But Benitez is not underestimating the Swiss side and points to their performance against Tottenham at White Hart Line in the quarter-finals as proof of their danger.

“The main thing is to win tomorrow, so we’ll play the best team,” Benitez said.

“We are not in the final yet and we are playing against a tough team. Basel will come trying to score, they it against Spurs and I am sure they will have the same approach. They need to score.

“Winning a trophy is important to everyone but we are not in the final yet and we are playing against a tough team.

“We have a good team and we are so close to the final we have to be concentrated. I have a lot of confidence in my players.”

Juan Mata believes that Chelsea are good enough to win the UEFA Europa League and qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League by virtue of a top-four finish in the Premier League.

He praised interim manager Benitez and he too emphasized the importance of staying focused against Basel to earn a place in the final.

“Scoring two goals away is always good but we still have to fight to be in the final,” he said.

“Basel won’t give up. It will be tough. If we play like we have been playing we can do both, win the Europa League and qualify for the Champions League.

“Since I came here I have played a lot of games but I really enjoy that and it is good for me to play that amount of games.

“Rafa did great seasons in every club he’s been at and here he’s tried to do his best, and for the players he is a great manager

“Since I came here I have had three managers & I have enjoyed it with all three & now we have the chance to win another trophy.”

Wed 1 May, 2013
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