Sport Soccer

Monday 23 April 2018

Benitez: One game at a time

Rafael Benitez insists he is first thinking about the Steaua Bucharest clash
Rafael Benitez insists he is first thinking about the Steaua Bucharest clash

Rafael Benitez knows that at Chelsea, perhaps more than any other club, it is important to take things game-by-game and he is not yet ready to look towards the FA Cup clash at Manchester United.

The Spaniard, whose position was under scrutiny following his impassioned monologue against his title of 'interim manager' and the continued barracking of the club's fans, maintains he will see out his contract until the end of the season.

There are numerous hurdles to negotiate, though, beginning this week at Steaua Bucharest, who knocked Ajax out of the Europa League, and then next Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final at Manchester United. "One game at a time," said Benitez, following Chelsea's 1-0 Barclays Premier League defeat of West Brom.

He added: "We have to go to Bucharest before we can concentrate on this (the United) game. Both games are important, but one is just one game and one is two legs.

"I'm really pleased after winning, without thinking what will happen in the future. We had to produce a good game, we did it. The players enjoyed it, the fans were behind the team. Everything was positive. What will happen in the next week, I don't know."

The Old Trafford fixture, against Benitez's old foe Sir Alex Ferguson, takes place between the Europa League last-16 legs with Steaua. The proximity of the matches means Benitez has a selection dilemma, with a Champions League spot in the Premier League the over-riding priority, but silverware desirable too.

It will be intriguing to see if - and where - Benitez deploys captain John Terry. The Blues skipper, who is still managing his return from a knee injury, was again an unused substitute against the Baggies, having played at the Riverside Stadium.

Gary Cahill was also on the bench after missing the Middlesbrough match with a virus, with Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz in central defence.

"We have to manage the squad," Benitez said. "You need fresh legs. We have to decide, that's it. We have to manage his (Terry's) fitness and be careful. He's training. Match fitness and training sessions are two different things and he's improving."

Fernando Torres was also named among the substitutes, coming on late after Demba Ba's 28th-minute strike had proved the difference, and again, Benitez is happy with the options at his disposal. "We have two strikers with different qualities and they can do a job for us," the Spaniard said.

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