• Europa League

Benitez: Europa League success key for Chelsea

ESPN staff
February 12, 2013
Rafael Benitez doesn't mind playing on Thursdays © Getty Images

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Rafael Benitez says the Europa League will not affect his Chelsea side's domestic ambitions, and may actually help them maintain momentum in the chase for Champions League places.

For the first time in a decade, the Stamford Bridge outfit will have to adjust to the Thursday-Sunday schedule, but the Spanish manager says it had no effect on his Valencia team - who won both their domestic league and the old UEFA Cup in 2004.

He said: "In terms of flights and games it's like the Champions League. In terms of mentality the first thought is, 'hmm, it's different.'

"But if you look at the teams in the Europa League you will see that it could be quite difficult. We have to start thinking about it as a great competition with good teams and that we want to do our best.

"Thursday-Sunday is fine, because in the Champions League it was sometimes Wednesday-Saturday. The most important thing is in the players' heads. In England there is a tradition of playing on Saturday. But in Spain I won the UEFA Cup with Valencia playing on Thursday and Sunday, which was just the same. We can manage if we have enough bodies.

"Do you expect them to think it's not important? I don't think that. I expect them to be focused and to concentrate, but we will need some time to talk about this. On the day before when we fly they will realise that it's Europe and they must give 100%."

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