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.

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.

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...