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David Luiz hails Rafa Benitez's impact at Chelsea

Updated: Saturday, 04 May 2013 10:14 | Comments

David Luiz believes Rafa Benitez has been a positive influence at Chelsea
David Luiz believes Rafa Benitez has been a positive influence at Chelsea

David Luiz praised the influence of Rafael Benitez as Chelsea bid to complete a turbulent season with European success and a return to the Champions League.

After sealing their place in the Europa League final against Benfica on May 15, last season's Champions League winners first turn their attentions to the battle for the Barclays Premier League top four with games against champions Manchester United tomorrow and Tottenham on Wednesday.

"All season we've tried our best, but now the team has more confidence to play together and in the philosophy of Rafa Benitez," Luiz told Chelsea TV.

"Everyone wants to play in the Champions League next year, everyone wants to win one title this season.

"We need to show the character, to show our best and to win the [Europa League] title."

The chaotic campaign saw Champions League-winning boss Roberto Di Matteo depart after the Blues became the first holders to exit at the group stage and former Liverpool manager Benitez appointed to an interim role.

The vitriol aimed at Benitez has relented of late but he could yet end the season, and his spell at Stamford Bridge, having achieved his targets before handing over to Jose Mourinho.

One newspaper reported a deal has already been agreed for Real Madrid boss Mourinho to return to Stamford Bridge on July 1.

Although Chelsea face Everton on the final day of the season, the Blues and Benitez would receive an end-of-season boost by beating Benfica in Amsterdam.

Defender Branislav Ivanovic said: "This season has been a very long, very difficult season for us.

"To have the opportunity to finish the season with a trophy is great and huge motivation for us.

"It's a great opportunity for the manager to win a trophy with us, for us and especially for our fans. The trophy is only what the fans remember."

"All season we've tried our best, but now the team has more confidence to play together and in the philosophy of Rafa Benitez," - David Luiz.

The Europa League is a competition Chelsea did not expect to be in this season and is their eighth and last shot at silverware.

It means the Blues will play 69 games this term, with the 65th at Old Trafford and the 66th against Spurs.

Both matches are likely to have a huge bearing on whether the Blues return to the Champions League next term and that is the immediate focus for Ivanovic.

"For us the next two games in the league are deciding games," Ivanovic said.

"We need points for our aim for Champions League next season and [the final] is after the Tottenham game, which is huge for us. We have to be ready.

"We have to get points in those games. We have to secure [Champions League football], if it's possible.

"It will be much easier to prepare for the final for us in that case."

Benitez was named manager of the month for April, but deferred praise to his squad, which he has had to rotate due to Chelsea's congested schedule.

"The players, when you rotate them and use different players, still they are performing," Benitez said.

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