PREVIEW: Benitez believes in UCL chances

Rafael Benitez insisted he did not need another "miracle" to rescue Chelsea from Champions League humiliation on Tuesday.

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Benitez famously masterminded what was dubbed 'The Miracle of Istanbul' seven and a half years ago when Liverpool produced one of the greatest comebacks in European Cup final history to beat AC Milan.

But he declared on Tuesday afternoon that Chelsea did not require divine intervention to avoid becoming the first Champions League holders to crash out of the competition before Christmas.

That is despite the Blues going into Wednesday's final Group E game needing to beat Nordsjaelland while hoping Shakhtar Donetsk produce the same result against Juventus.

Anything else and the team which ended their agonising wait for Champions League glory just six months ago will suffer the indignity of continuing their European campaign in the Europa League.

Interim manager Benitez acknowledged Chelsea might need "a bit of luck" on Wednesday night but said: "I don't think it's a miracle.

"We have to do our job and wait for the other teams."

Chelsea are on their worst run in the Barclays Premier League for 15 years after failing to win any of their three matches since he took charge.

That has piled on the pressure for the former Liverpool boss, whose appointment sparked a huge supporter revolt, something which may intensify at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

Benitez, who had an ill-fated spell in charge of Inter Milan after they won the competition, admitted it was "normal" for teams to lose some of their hunger the following season.

He said: "It's like, 'Okay, we have done the most difficult thing'.

"It changes a little bit the perception, changes a little bit the approach for the next competition.

"That is the difficult thing, to manage the hunger of the players and the hunger of the staff.

"It's part of our job to push them and try and try to keep the competition."

Nordsjaelland boss Kasper Hjulmand, meanwhile, is aiming to deliver the knockout blow to Chelsea's Champions League hopes and exploit the unrest at Stamford Bridge.

Hjulmand backed the European champions to weather the supporter revolt against Benitez and their alarming slump in form over the past six weeks.

But he was hoping to delay their revival for another 24 hours by masterminding the greatest triumph in the Danish champions' history.

Hjulmand said: "They have a little dip right now but they'll come back and they'll show who they are in the near future.

"Hopefully not tomorrow [Wednesday] but, after that, it's just a matter of time."

Benitez is expected to be the victim of more jeers, abuse and protest banners at Wednesday night's game.

"It is weird," Hjulmand said of the fan reaction he hoped to exploit.

"The psychology is, of course, to see if we have a result as far as possible.

"We can only focus on what's important for us and that's what we're going to do on the pitch, no matter what happens outside, no matter what we see or hear.

"This is all about us performing and we have to be very concentrated and play maybe our best match ever to get a result."



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