Benfica v Chelsea: Rafael Benítez ready for ‘massive’ final

Benfica v Chelsea: Rafael Benítez is desperate to see the Blues end a turbulent season on a high by lifting the Europa League trophy

rafael benitez
Rafael Benítez is the 10th Chelsea manager of the Roman Abramovich era Photo: The Sport Review

Rafael Benítez is desperate to see Chelsea end a turbulent season on a high by beating Benfica and lifting the Europa League trophy on Wednesday.

The Blues, who started the campaign aiming for seven different trophies, were parachuted down into Europe’s second tier competition after failing to make their way out of the Champions League group stage in the wake of Roberto Di Matteo’s sacking.

And Benítez says he would be bursting with pride to see his side win the title after battling against a season of “difficult circumstances”.

“A European final is massive,” said the Spaniard.

“Maybe you can score an early goal and change, or concede three and have to change at half-time.

“You have to have confidence and belief you can do well. Your team has to have the same feeling, and you have to see what happens but it depends on the other team too.

“This is the final and I want to win. If we can do it I will be really proud because we worked so hard in difficult circumstances.

“You have to give credit to all the people involved, the staff and the players.”

Chelsea will be without playmaker Eden Hazard for Wednesday’s clash due to a hamstring injury, while John Terry will undergo a late fitness test.

And Benítez continued: “Hazard will not be available. John still will try and see how he feels but we will decide tomorrow.

“Now it is not easy for him, obviously it is not the best injury but we will see today and tomorrow with the medical staff, and after we will decide.”

Benfica v Chelsea: Pre-match facts

• The sides met for the first time last season when Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea won 1-0 in Lisbon and 2-1 at home to eliminate Jorge Jesus’s men in the quarter-finals en route to winning the Champions League.

• Benfica’s record in 31 games against English clubs in European competition is W10 D5 L16. They have already beaten Premier League opponents in this season’s Europa League, eliminating Newcastle United in the quarter-finals.

• Benfica go into the final having played exactly twice as many European games as their rivals: 362 to Chelsea’s 181.

• Chelsea could become the first team to win Uefa’s top two club competitions in reverse order in successive campaigns.

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