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Benitez: Chelsea can handle Benfica

16 March 2012 14:50

Champions League-winning coach Rafael Benitez believes Chelsea should be happy with a quarter-final tie against Benfica.

English Premier League club Chelsea were pitted against Liga Sagres side Benfica in the last eight of the competition during Friday's draw for the final stages.

The winner of their clash will be up against reigning champions Barcelona or Serie A title holders AC Milan in the semi-finals.

Chelsea travel to Lisbon for the first leg on March 27, and former Liverpool manager Benitez feels his old rivals have been handed a favourable tie.

"I think so," Benitez told Sky Sports when asked if Benfica were a preferable opponent.

"Obviously everyone was expecting APOEL as the best team to play against but I think it will be difficult because Benfica have some good players."

"They have (Pablo) Aimar, who was my player at Valencia, they have players with talent; Javi Garcia, a strong midfielder, (Nicolas) Gaitan, (Axel) Witsel and (Oscar) Cardozo."

"They’re a good team but I think (Chelsea) can do well."

Benitez warned Chelsea to expect a warm welcome at Benfica's Estadio da Luz, but feels the west London side are equipped to cope.

"It's amazing," he said.

"The atmosphere is good at the beginning and the fans are on top of the team."

"I don't think it will be too difficult for the Chelsea players, with the experience they have, but it's a great atmosphere and you will see it's a massive stadium and the people are enjoying their football."

Benitez also said he thinks AC Milan's expansive style could play into the hands of opponents Barca.

"Barcelona have a lot of confidence in themselves. If they have players fit, they can beat anyone," he said.

"AC Milan will allow them to play football so that is an important thing for them. Other teams, maybe Marseille, are tactically better organised or more physical."

"Milan are quite strong but they can play football and Barcelona will enjoy this."

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