Benitez focus on Europa League not Jose Mourinho

Posted on by SoccerPunter

There have been rumours that Jose Mourinho will leave Real Madrid next month to become Chelsea manager in the new season.

SoccerPunter expect Jose Mourinho to leave Real Madrid after a disappointing season, having lost the Spain Primera Division to Barcelona as well as being eliminated by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League semi-finals.

Although interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez will quit at the end of this season, he refused to comment on speculation that Jose Mourinho will return to manage his former club.

Instead, he is busy preparing Chelsea for tonight Europa League semi-final match against Basel at Stamford Bridge. The Swiss Super League team lost 1-2 to Chelsea in the first leg match last week.

It is notable that Basel have not register a win in their past 6 away matches in Europa League. Whereas Chelsea are fundamentally strong at home. Refer to our H2H stats for Chelsea vs Basel.

Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata also shied away from discussing the probability of Mourinho’s arrival, but he did give his backing to Benitez, who has faced protests from some of the club’s fans since he was appointed in November.

“It’s not the players’ business right now,” said the Spaniard.

“We have so many important things still to come. We just have to be focused on what we’re playing for, which is a very important trophy for the club, to finish third in the league so the club can qualify for the Champions League, and that’s all I can say right now.”

He added: “It’s tricky. It doesn’t depend on me. All I can say is that we’re working really, really well with Rafa, and that’s the truth for me.”

Chelsea take a 2-1 lead into Thursday’s game at Stamford Bridge, after David Luiz’s injury-time free-kick secured victory in the first leg at St Jakob-Park last week.

The London club are bidding to add a first Europa League crown to the maiden Champions League title they won last season, but Benitez says Basel’s pedigree means they cannot afford to look too far ahead.

“Obviously, as a manager you want to win every trophy you can, so we have an opportunity, but my concern is that we’ll be thinking we’re in the final, but it’s not the case,” he said.

“We play against a very good team, a team that scores goals away. Everyone has to realise it will be difficult. First of all we have to win and after we can think about the final.”

Chelsea will be without left-back Ashley Cole due to suspension, but Benitez reported no fresh injury concerns.

Basel, meanwhile, will give striker Marco Streller a fitness test on the morning of the game after he sustained a thigh muscle injury.

The Swiss Super League leaders have never won in nine previous visits to England and are still awaiting their first away win in this season’s competition.

However, having seen his side eliminate Tottenham Hotspur on penalties in the quarter-finals, coach Murat Yakin says Basel are confident they can secure the win they need to reach the final.

“I don’t hold much store by statistics,” he said.

“What I want is for us to play good, fresh football here. Chelsea are very good defensively and in attack, but our team has very good qualities and we showed that against Tottenham. A good start is very important for us.

“Every game is different and we know we’re playing against Chelsea, who are the Champions League winners and have two top players in every position.

“But we’ll play with confidence and who knows? Maybe we can achieve a small wonder and qualify for the final.”

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