Chelsea do not need 'miracle' to progress from Champions League insists Rafael Benitez

Champions League fate out of Chelsea's hands

Rafael Benitez today insisted he did not need another “miracle” to rescue Chelsea from Champions League humiliation.

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

But he declared this 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 tomorrow'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" tomorrow night but said: "I don't think it's a miracle.

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

Benitez reiterated he had no fears of a Shakhtar stitch-up, despite a draw suiting both the Ukrainian champions and Juve.

The Spaniard arguably should be less concerned about the mentality of the group leaders and more worried about that of his own side, who 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 tomorrow.

Benitez remarkably admitted after Saturday's defeat at West Ham that he was "not 100% sure" his job was secure.

But he was more relaxed today, insisting he felt "no" pressure from owner Roman Abramovich and that he had been assured the Russian was not about to parachute in Avram Grant to assist him.

"I know Avram Grant is a nice person and a good manager, but all the information I have is he's not coming," said Benitez, who admitted he and Abramovich had not spoken since Saturday but confirmed the Russian's thoughts had been relayed to him.

If Benitez was "angry" with his players' second-half capitulation at Upton Park, Abramovich must have been furious with such a limp surrender from his expensively-assembled squad.

A similar capitulation culminated in Roberto Di Matteo's sacking in Chelsea's penultimate Champions League group game at Juventus, which left them with only two European victories since their Munich triumph.

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."

Benitez backtracked when pressed on whether there was a lack of commitment from his players but he did once again admit they were in search of "character" in the absence of the injured John Terry and Frank Lampard, who will miss out again tomorrow.

With Daniel Sturridge also still injured, Fernando Torres will lead the line once more, Benitez again leaping to the defence of the misfiring £50million man today and insisting the whole team had to become more ruthless.

However, Benitez appeared to be clutching at straws in praising the striker's contribution when Chelsea were defending from corners, saying: "Two or three times he's cleared the ball."

He added: "As a striker, he's helping the team. I wouldn't mind him not scoring but the team winning."

Benitez has admitted that is also his only chance of getting supporters off his back.

Asked if he had a message for them, he said: "The message is always the same.

"I will try my best, I will try to win games for the club and them, and for everyone around, and hopefully that will change the perception.

"If not, I'll try winning more games."

PA

News
David Beckham
peopleFootballer joins No campaign
Sport
Angel Di Maria
Football
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
film
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
News
newsIn short, yes
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

Arts and Entertainment
art
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories