Rafael Benitez

  • European football’s holy trinity keep perfect records

    Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Roma all maintained their perfect starts to the season.

    Bayern Munich went top of the Bundesliga and Andrea Pirlo was in sparkling form as Juventus beat AC Milan, but the true stars were Barca and Atletico in Spain and Roma in Italy, who have now won eight, eight and seven consecutive league matches since the start of the season.

    Arsenal's win streak in England came to an end as they dropped points for the first time since the opening day of the season, while in France Paris St Germain got the better of bitter rivals Olympique Marseille in Ligue 1 and keep pace

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  • Chelsea battled their way to glory

    Finally, Chelsea wiped out years of bad memories by winning the Champions League.

    They had to wait for the last kick in the final round of penalties - it was converted by Didier Drogba to give Roman Abramovich his dream Champions League trophy and see them qualify for next season's competition.

    There have been years of consecutive attempts, almost getting their hands on the trophy in Moscow four years ago, but at last Chelsea have the cup they wanted. And, because football can be so unpredictable, it has probably come when they least expected it and in the most difficult circumstances.

    From

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  • The UEFA Europa League Final is upon us and it will feature two Spanish teams who will looking to redress the fact that no La Liga team, against all the forecasts, will be taking part in the Champions League Final in spite of both Barcelona and Real Madrid being favourites to be there.

    So we will see an evenly matched final in Bucharest between two sides who have had a great tournament, scoring goals and coming out on top in most of the games they have played to get to the final.

    The following graphic shows the possible starting line-ups:

    As for what we can expect from both teams, Atletico

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  • Chelsea’s win: That’s football

    'That's football' said Vujadin Boskov when he was asked about the game at a press conference. With his limited Spanish, the former coach of Real Madrid and the old Yugoslavia national team amongst others, couldn't find a better, more graphic, way to explain why a team could win a game from a very difficult situation against all the odds.

    But Chelsea did exactly that last night in the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final. With 10 men for a large part of the match, they were able to score two goals against the champions and thus prevent, for at least another year, a team from winning the Champions

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  • All to play for at Nou Camp

    Lionel Messi surrounded by Chelsea players

    The second Champions League semi-final of the week, like the first, did not disappoint. As with the clash in Munich 24 hours previously, the game in London was hard-fought, with one team dominant but with only one winner.

    The 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge at least showed there is truth in the maxim that a victory has to be worked for. Chelsea won because they converted one of the few chances they had. And Barcelona lost for precisely the opposite reason: because they failed to convert the many chances they created. That's football. Let's see what happened.

    Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona

    It was clear

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  • Familiar foes set for fascinating tie

    John Terry tussles with Lionel Messi in their 2009 semi-finalChelsea against Barcelona is a very interesting tie between two teams that know each other very well.

    They have faced each other several times over the last few years. In the four champions League ties they have played against each other since 2005, both clubs have won two.

    Chelsea is coming back at the level they have so consistently operated at over the last decade or so. They know that the Champions League is now their priority.

    Barcelona play the game with a fluidity that everyone enjoys. It will be a very interesting game with a physically strong team like Chelsea against a team of the

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  • Home final is extra motivation for Bayern

    Bayern have a unique opportunity to play a Champions League final on home turfWatching Bayern lose at Borussia Dortmund last week showed us a different side to them compared with their recent games.

    Previously, we saw a team scoring many goals and playing with plenty of confidence. Against Dortmund, who won 1-0 and managed to frustrate Bayern for most of the game, it was a different story.Dortmund v Bayern tactical overview

    Will it have an impact on their game versus Real Madrid? Maybe it will act as a kind of motivation, an impetus to focus even more on this Champions League semi-final. They have the possibility to play the final in their own stadium. So I believe they will be able to raise their game

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  • Chelsea never had total control

    The second day of second legs in the quarter-finals of the Champions League turned out to be similar to the first. You could say that Wednesday also met expectations in that the two teams that had controlled their respective first legs eventually qualified. But as always there are nuances of difference. Because the end can be the same but the means can be very different, you have to analyse it objectively.

    Anyway, however much time and space is devoted to analysis, what is clear is that it is now confirmed that Real Madrid will face Bayern Munich for a place in the final and Chelsea will be

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  • Superior Chelsea are certain favourites

    The first legs of the quarter-finals of this year's Champions League have now been concluded and no home team came out as winners.

    There was one draw, which featured AC Milan against Barcelona, and which, since the draw was made, appeared to be the most evenly-matched tie, while the others were more predictable in this round and they gave Chelsea a win in Lisbon, Bayern a win at Marseille and Real Madrid a win in Nicosia. While purists may disagree, with the exception of the evenly contested game in Lombardy, you could say that the rest of the results were predictable.

    But as we have done for

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  • Long ball did trick for Chelsea

    We now have the names of the clubs who will contest the quarter-finals of the Champions League. After the final four second-leg matches this week, we now know who will accompany Milan, APOEL Nicosia, Barcelona and Benfica in the draw for the last eight - and there was a lot to debate.

    The long ball served Chelsea well - here Drogba scores the openerChelsea 4-1 Napoli

    A match which promised to be exciting - and met those expectations. Chelsea started the clash with their 'veterans' on the pitch against a Naples outfit who arrived with confidence, and it showed in the first few minutes with several attempts on Petr Cech's goal which were all quite dangerous.

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