Rafael Benitez: Chelsea will target Europa League glory


Chelsea intermi boss Rafael Benitez insists his side will set their sights on winning the Europa League after a rather unexpected early exit from the Champions League. Chelsea became the first Champions League holders to be eliminated at the group stage despite an emphatic 6-1 victory in the last group match, the first success under Benitez. "We think it is an important competition," Benitez said. "We want to go as far as we can. If we can win the competition that is what we will try to do."

Chelsea have thrashed Danish champions Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridge but Juventus's 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine left them in third position in Group E because of the Blues' head-to-head results against Shakhtar. The European champions must play in the continent's second-tier competition, the Europa League, just seven months after lifting the Champions League trophy in Munich.

Manager Benitez insists the Europa League can still be a worthwhile competition for the club."The Europa League is not important when you can't win it," he added. "When you are in the semi-final or final everybody wants to win it. Every competition is important to us and we will try to win it if we can."

The Spaniard was pleased with the manner of the victory against Nordsjaelland, which saw Fernando Torres bagging two goals and David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Juan Mata and Oscar also getting on the scoresheet. "It is always important to win but the way you win is also important and we won with attitude, character, commitment, intensity and good play," Benitez said. "It was everything you are looking for and I was pleased for the club, the fans, everyone." Benitez was particularly pleased with Torres's performance: "He showed his desire and his quality. If we play at that level he will score more goals. The team was playing well and if we play well he will score goals. I was watching him training and he was very, very sharp with more confidence."

However, Benitez was once again booed by a large section of Chelsea fans. "Can we change the situation? No. So we have to think about what we can change, which is improving and be ready for the next challenge. The game was out of our hands. I said before that we had to do our job and as a manager, you have to be really pleased with the performance of the team. There were 32 attempts, 18 on target, six goals, a lot of clear chances, so you have to think about the positives after this performance."

Chelsea are now among the favourites to win the Europa League, Bet365 have them at 15/2 to win the competition, with holders Atletico Madrid priced at 7/1.

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