Date: 10th May 2013 at 9:00am
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David_Luiz_Ramires-1200.jpg(portrait)Chelsea’s interim manager Rafael Benitez has played down the favourites tag ahead of Wednesday night’s Europa League final against Benfica.

However, he does hope that former Benfica stars Ramires and David Luiz help give the Blues some sort of advantage that could tip the balance in their favour.

If Chelsea manage to be victorious at the Amsterdam Arena next week they will be the first club to follow a Champions League with a Europa League win and the first to hold the two titles at the same time as the Champions Leage final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund is ten days later.

Benitez explained that he sees Benfica as equals:

“Always when you go to a final, everything can happen.

“We know really well Benfica. They have a good manager and good players, and experience in Europe. I don’t see any team as favourites. Both are quite good teams, and we will see what happens in the final.

“[The Europa League has] been important for us because we could keep everyone on their toes, ready to play, and I think it’s been positive in the end.”

He also said that he hopes Luiz and Ramires can give him a tactical insight into Benfica from their knowledge of the club.

“Ramires and David Luiz have experience in Portuguese football so that will be helpful for me and us to know a bit more about their team.

“They know the manager [Jorge Jesus], the style, the ideas. To be fair, I was talking to some of them before and, more or less, we have an idea. But they will give me more of a clue.”

Chelsea last met Benfica in the Champions League last season at the quarter-final stage and it was a nervy encounter as it took Raul Meireles’ thunderbolt in the second leg to secure the Blues’ place in the last four and the away club could count themselves unlucky not to progress after the performance they put in on the night.

Tactically he has to get it spot on as they are a very good side and arguably better than the side we met last year despite the fact they too were eliminated during the group stages in this season’s Champions League as Barcelona and Celtic negotiated Group G successfully.

Perhaps luckily for Chelsea the Águias or Eagles will face a stern test away against FC Porto on Saturday, which could be a potential title decider as Benfica lead the league by two points with two games to go. If they do manage to beat their rivals then you could also argue that it would be a major boon ahead of the clash against Chelsea, but hopefully we will have secured our spot in the top four by then to raise the mood in our camp.

Source: ESPN


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