The Blues have much to do as we attempt to overturn a 2-0 first-leg defeat when we travel to Swansea City in the Capital One Cup semi-final, but Rafael Benitez remains adamant we can overcome the odds and book a place in next month’s final at Wembley.
Following their 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago, and with the advantage of playing the second leg in front of their own supporters, Michael Laudrup’s side will start tomorrow’s game as favourites.
Everton, Stoke City and Norwich City, however, have all won at the Liberty Stadium this season, and with us having recorded six straight away victories – scoring 20 goals in the process – Benitez is confident we can add our name to that list.
‘For me, it’s easier than for Michael Laudrup, because we have to score and we have to win the game,’ said the Blues manager. ‘For them, it depends, they may try to play on the counter-attack, or play how they usually do, but I think they will wait for us and play deep.
‘We have the confidence we can do it, we are playing against a good team, but if you remember the first game we had a lot of chances. We made two mistakes and they scored, so we have to manage the situation, but our away form has been good.
‘We know they will try to score a goal and put more pressure on us, but we have to go there and try to win. Obviously 1-0 isn’t enough, so we will have to do a bit better, but we can do it because we have enough quality in the squad.’
The man in the opposition dugout tomorrow night is widely regarded as one of the most talented footballers of his generation, following a career which took in spells at the likes of Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Since taking charge of Swansea at the beginning of the current campaign, Laudrup has done an impressive job, and Benitez was full of praise for the Dane.
‘He’s doing well,’ said the Spaniard. ‘Before him it was [Paulo] Sousa, [Roberto] Martinez and [Brendan] Rodgers; he has the same ideas which is good because he doesn’t need to change too many things. He can just carry on doing a good job, and he’s doing really well.’
With a 2-0 deficit to overhaul, it would perhaps be understandable if Benitez were to unleash both Demba Ba and Fernando Torres on the home side.
As an option, he refused to rule it out, but suggested that the impact of the three attackers tucked in behind the striker could be equally important.
‘It’s not easy for us to play both at the same time because of the quality of the players behind,’ he explained. ‘But we did it for 10-15 minutes the other day [against Southampton] and we can do it again if necessary.
‘Torres was playing too many games as the only striker, but now we have another option, so we can rest Demba or Fernando, or we can play both, so I have a problem, but it’s a nice problem to have.’
At the other end of the pitch, meanwhile, John Terry is edging closer to a full return having been on the bench for the past three matches, although Benitez is eager not to take any unnecessary risks with the skipper.
‘He’s been training and doing well, but he needs match fitness,’ said Benitez. ‘Yesterday we had a hard session and he did well. Today he was training again, we adjusted the team and some tactics, he was involved with the squad and is an option.
‘He knows he will need time. We have a plan with him and we are following that plan.’
Benitez has never won the competition, and was a losing finalist when he was in charge of Liverpool – against Chelsea – back in 2005.
With so much to play for, though, between now and the end of the season, the Chelsea manager acknowledged how important success in the Capital One Cup could be.
‘Every game and competition is important,’ he said. ‘We know that to be in the top four is massive for the club for next season, but at the same time we want to compete and challenge in every competition. I want to win trophies.’