Rafael Benitez returns to the Champions League tomorrow evening, a competition both he and the club he now manages have won.
The permutations needed for Chelsea to remain in the running this season have been well documented, but naturally the Spaniard is concentrating solely on his side defeating Danish champions Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridge.
He does however believe Shakhtar Donetsk will go all out to beat Juventus, as we need them to do, but also warns we cannot take our own three points for granted.
Benitez has ruled John Terry (knee), Frank Lampard (calf) and Daniel Sturridge (hamstring) out of the final group stage game although all three are now very close to a return.
‘Sturridge on Thursday will maybe start training with the team so we will see what he can do,’ the interim manager reports.
‘Lampard has trained with the group for two days, but they weren’t full sessions, they were light training sessions. He was fine but tomorrow is still too early. Terry was training with the physios and I have been speaking with him today but again it is still too early. We will speak again on Thursday.’
David Luiz is available again following his domestic suspension at the weekend and although the defender and his fellow Brazilian Ramires are one booking away from a one-game Champions League ban, it will not come into Benitez’s selection thinking.
‘The focus is on winning this game,’ he says.
On the final group stage game
Nordsjaelland, with one point so far, will finish fourth in Group E but despite that and Chelsea’s 4-0 win against the Danes in Copenhagen in October, Benitez has been warning his squad to focus on the task in hand.
‘The players are ready mentally, they are working hard to reach the next level, but Nordsjaelland is a dangerous team because they have not too much to lose and they like to play the game on the floor, and that is always dangerous.
‘But I don’t see it is as needing a miracle. We have to win and wait but although Juventus are a very good team, we have confidence Shakhtar can beat them.
‘Shakhtar have good players, players that want to be seen around the world and this challenge is important for them, they know they have to perform.
‘It will need hard work from us and sometimes a little bit of luck, but we will try to do our job and see what happens in the other game.’
Benitez when Liverpool manager was involved in a famous Matchday Six win on the way to lifting the trophy. Needing victory by two clear goals against Olympiacos, they won 3-1 thanks to an 86th-minute strike.
‘I like to play in the Champions League, and to win obviously. Tomorrow is not similar to that game [against Olympiacos] because it is not dependent only on us. You can do a lot of maths but in the end you say you have to win and that is it. It is an easy approach, prepare for winning and we cannot worry about the other result.’