Rafael Benitez

  • 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.


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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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  • Zambia spring a surprise in dramatic final

    Zambia's Katongo starred for the champions throughout the tournament

    The surprises kept coming in the African Nations Cup final, just as they had done in the previous rounds, including the semi-finals, which were a warning of what was to come for Ivory Coast.

    Zambia finished up winning the tournament and they did it in a dramatic final that was full of emotion right up until to the last penalty kick.

    From the first minute you could see that they had studied the opposition well and they had a clear game plan. They waited for set pieces. You could see they had planned their corners against Ivory Coast's normal zonal marking. Their second weapon, which was clear

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  • Analysing the Cup of Nations quarter-finals

    Didier Drogba has his eyes on the continental prizeThe African Cup of Nations is progressing well and coming towards a conclusion. We have been looking at the quarter-finals and we have made several observations which we can share.

    Ivory Coast 3-0 Equatorial Guinea

    Firstly many people saw the Ivory Coast as favourites, but were hoping Guinea could spring a surprise because they had done so well in the tournament. In the end, as forecast, Ivory Coast proved their superiority on the pitch. They started with a 4-1-4-1 formation with Drogba (wearing number 11) as target man. However, they did change systems several times with Jean-Jacques Gosso (6)

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  • PA-9386987Just a couple of hours before writing this I finished a talk, a discussion, in front of a mixture of candidates for the UEFA Pro Licence and a refresher course for the same licence organised by the FA. I would like to take the opportunity to share with you here some of the ideas discussed.

    In any new working environment you always have to consider the past, which is obviously important, but you cannot dwell on it and still hope to evolve. In my opinion, I will say again that balance between the two is the key and that is what I tried to explain in the talk with the coaches.

    Let's talk about

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