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Benitez: Chelsea aren´t Europa League favourites

Chelsea interim boss Rafael Benitez has dismissed suggestions that his side are favourites to beat Benfica in the Europa League final.

The London club will meet Jorge Jesus’ men at the Amsterdam Arena on Wednesday for the showpiece fixture of Europe’s second-tier competition.

And despite Chelsea going into the game having won the UEFA Champions League last term, Benitez has acknowledged that form goes out of the window in games of this nature.

“Always when you get to a final anything can happen, so as I said we know Benfica really well because they have a very good manager and good players and experience in Europe,” he said.

“So we don’t see anyone as favourites, we see two good teams and the best one will win in the final.

“Obviously we know Benfica really well from playing with Liverpool, Chelsea too. They have a good manager who has been there for years, likes to work very hard.

“They like to be competitive. They have Aimar, who was my player at Valencia and is a very good player. Cardozo scores lots of goals, but we will speak with Ramires and David Luiz for more information.”

Benfica could clinch the Portuguese league title when they face Porto just four days prior to the final, and Benitez opined that coach Jesus faces a difficult task in naming his team for both games.

“I think it will be a massive game for them, really important,” he added. “The rivalry in the Portuguese league is massive so it will be a difficult decision for the manager which is most important but I think he will be the same as us – try to win the first game and then concentrate on the final.

The Spaniard also claimed that he is not prioritising winning a trophy over finishing in the Premier League top four prior to his expected departure at the end of the season.

“Always to win a trophy is important for every manager but to finish in the top four is also important,” he continued.

“It’s been a difficult season because of all the circumstances but we are in a good position and hopefully we will be happy.”
Thu 9 May, 2013
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