Final all that matters to Mata

PA Sport
Juan Mata

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Juan Mata

Juan Mata has refused to even contemplate the prospect of playing in the Europa League next season ahead of Chelsea's Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

Chelsea finished in sixth place in the Barclays Premier League this season, despite their astonishing run to Saturday's Champions League showpiece, and they must now beat Bayern in the German giants' own back yard to avoid being out of the competition next term for the first time since 2002 and in the Europa League instead.

Asked what it would mean to be in Europe's second-tier competition next season, Mata said: "We want to play in the Champions League and we want to win this year to play next season. Our objective is to play in the Champions League. We're only thinking of winning and, after that, let's see."

Despite their Premier League travails, Chelsea have outstripped their domestic rivals by a considerable distance in Europe this season.

Indeed, were it not for caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo's remarkable rescue act, English football would have suffered its most humiliating continental campaign since 1996.

Mata declared Chelsea were proud of having flown the flag for England in such sensational style since their historic last-16 comeback against Napoli.

"Yes, we are, we are," he said.

"A lot of good teams like Tottenham, Arsenal, Man United played in European tournaments but now we are going to play in the Champions League final, representing England as well."

However, Mata acknowledged Chelsea's performances have been up and down.

He said: "We won the FA Cup. It's true that in the Premier League, it hasn't been an easy season for us. But now we have the chance to play in the Champions League next year by winning the trophy, so it will be amazing for us to win it."

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