Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech targets landmark trophy to soften the blow

The Blues are in Europa League action tonight

Prague

Chelsea have already made history for the wrong reasons in Europe this season, but they intend to start making a more positive impression in Prague.

The shame of becoming the first Champions League winners to be knocked out at the group stage the following campaign has weighed heavily on the club since their humblings at the hands of Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk in the autumn.

Demotion into the less-respected Europa League certainly became a reality as they went through their pre-match training exercises last night for the last-32 tie against Sparta Prague at the unfashionable Generali Arena. To rub salt into the wounds, Manchester United were about to kick off against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu.

There seemed to be little to be positive about, however goalkeeper Petr Cech is not one to dwell on the past and sees a way for the club to end the campaign with something to be really proud of. Only three teams have won all three of Uefa's Competitions – the European Cup, Europa League or Uefa Cup and the now defunct Cup Winners' Cup. They are Juventus, Bayern Munich and Ajax. Chelsea need the Europa League to complete the set and as far as Cech is concerned, becoming the first English club to set such a landmark would more than make amends for their failure to defend the European Cup.

The 30-year-old, who is playing against his former club for the first time, said: "This [becoming the first English side to win all three] is obviously a great motivation for everyone. Obviously we will miss the Champions League, but we haven't won it every year. There were games [like Real Madrid v Man United] that we had to be at home and had to watch. Once you're out of it you can't change the situation.

"We are in the Europa League and need to concentrate on what we can do. We can make ourselves happy by going far in the Europa League.

"If we win it, we can also qualify again for the Uefa Super Cup – we missed out on it earlier this season and that was a big disappointment for us. The Europa League is a competition you really have to respect."

Interim first-team coach Rafael Benitez is certainly going to do that and is expected to field a strong side against a Sparta side unbeaten in their last 11 home games in Europe. Captain John Terry is set to start having recovered from the knee problem which ruled him out of the Wigan game at the weekend.

Benitez is certainly not taking the chance to add another European trophy to his resume lightly either, having won the Uefa Cup with Valencia in 2004 and the Champions League with Liverpool 12 months later.

He even reprimanded a local journalist when he intimated that being in Prague must be a big disappointment when glamorous Champions League matches were taking place elsewhere.

Benitez said: "Why do you say 'only' [in Prague]? This is a massive city, massive club and massive competition so we are really pleased to be here.

"We can't change things, the Champions League is a massive competition, but the Europa League is also massive and we play against a historic team. For me, I will try to give my players the right message because we know it's going to be tough."

Chelsea will also be without Demba Ba (ineligible) and David Luiz (suspended), while Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel have been left behind in London after playing in the African Cup of Nations Final on Sunday.

Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor