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Costa: Chelsea, Tottenham ´biggest favourites´

15 March 2013 16:58

Benfica director of football Rui Costa says Chelsea and Tottenham are favourites for the Europa League crown.

Following Friday's draw it has been announced Benfica will play Newcastle in the quarter-finals in early April, with the first leg in Portugal.

The Lisbon-based club are top of Liga Sagres and the former AC Milan midfielder was pleased to have avoided the two other English clubs still in the competition, citing them as the two strongest teams left.

"They're (Chelsea and Tottenham) the biggest favourites in this competition, but we must focus on this game, and not focus on whether we are playing against the favourites or not," Costa said.

Benfica enjoyed a 4-2 aggregate win against Bordeaux to progress to the last eight but the 40-year-old says their next European encounter will be far from a formality.

"None of the games in this competition are easy, but it was a very difficult match against Bordeaux, and it will be against Newcastle. We must be ready and prepared to come up against an important side," Costa said.

"They are a very good side, and they have great players. They may not be playing well in the Premier League, but they did very well last year and are an example of a very positive team, a very offensive team with great players.

"They deserve our respect and they will certainly have our greatest attention."

Chelsea, meanwhile, were drawn against Rubin Kazan while Tottenham face Basel in the Europa League quarter-finals.

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