Rafael Benítez: Impossible for Chelsea to be at full strength in both games

Rafael Benítez admits it will be "impossible" for Chelsea to be at full strength against both Southampton and Manchester United

rafael benitez
Rafael Benítez's Chelsea play Southampton on Saturday and United on Monday Photo: The Sport Review

rafael benitez

Rafael Benítez admits it will be “impossible” for Chelsea to be at full strength against both Southampton and Manchester United, with the two games less than 48 hours apart.

The Blues travel to St Mary’s on Saturday looking to keep their bid for Champions League qualification on track, before hosting Manchester United on Monday lunchtime – just 45-and-a-half hours later – in the FA Cup quarter-final replay.

“These two games are the most difficult,” said Chelsea interim boss Benítez. “It’s nearly impossible to have fresh legs if you play 90 minutes against Southampton.

“In terms of preparation of the tactics it will be fine. Physiologically, it will be impossible.

“The day after a game you feel really tired. Two days after, you feel even more tired. It’s the reality. This second day will be really tough for everyone. Four days is fine. Two days is impossible.”

It has been suggested that Sir Alex Ferguson is planning to field two radically different line-ups for his side’s Premier League clash at Sunderland and the trip to west London.

But Benítez admits that is a luxury only United can afford thanks to their dominant position at the top of the Premier League table.

“I don’t think that we can do it [field two different line-ups] but I try to keep the level [up],” said the Spaniard, whose side are 19 points behind Ferguson’s leaders.

“The difference for them is that they are 15 points ahead so maybe then can do that and see what happens. We can’t, so we have to try and find a very competitive team for [both] games.”

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