Rafael Benitez has admitted Eden Hazard will not be available to face Benfica in Wednesday night’s Europa League final, with a decision to be made on John Terry on the day.
Hazard did not train in the Amsterdam Arena, while Terry did only some light jogging at the beginning of the session, which was undertaken in the full glare of the media spotlight. Ryan Bertrand also did not take part.
‘Hazard will not be available. John still will try and see how he feels but we will decide tomorrow,’ Benitez said before training. ‘Now it is not easy for him, obviously it is not the best injury but we will see today and tomorrow with the medical staff, and after we will decide.’
A European trophy, coupled with qualification for next season’s Champions League, would leave Benitez feeling satisfied with the job he has done at Stamford Bridge, but takes nothing for granted against what he sees as an impressive opposition.
‘Jorge Jesus is a good manager, they are a good team and they have experience in Europe,’ he said of Benfica. ‘In a final it is 50-50 and we will see what happens. We can make changes, they can make changes but in the end it depends on the players on the pitch.
‘We can be ready but still something can change the game. It will be an interesting final for everyone, they have experience and hopefully we can use our experience too.
‘A European final is massive. Maybe you can score an early goal and change, or concede three and have to change at half-time. You have to have confidence and belief you can do well. Your team has to have the same feeling, and you have to see what happens but it depends on the other team too.
‘This is the final and I want to win. If we can do it I will be really proud because we worked so hard in difficult circumstances. You have to give credit to all the people involved, the staff and the players.’
It has been a long road to Amsterdam, with victories in this competition over Sparta Prague, Steaua Bucharest, Rubin Kazan and Basel. Benitez is proud of the side’s presence in Holland, and opted not to pick a most difficult stage so far.
‘We have been playing two games per week so every time, it doesn’t matter the name of the opponent, we have had to deal with a small squad, injuries or suspensions, every game was difficult, so all of them,’ said the Spaniard.
‘I cannot say this one or the other one. It doesn’t matter how close to the final, they were all difficult and every game we played against very good teams, offensive teams with offensive mentalities. It was difficult for us to manage because sometimes we were coming from an important game and had an important game in two or three days, so to manage the squad and make decisions was difficult.
‘If we win it will be easier for people to realise to be here at this stage of the competition means we have done a lot of things well.
You can always improve, or make more mistakes. It is not an easy situation but we managed quite well. I think people realise now this is right. We have the feeling we have done a good job and hopefully we can do even better.’