Benitez: Concentration key to Chelsea's Europa League hopes

The Blues are set to face Sparta Prague in the last 32 of the competition on Thursday evening, and their interim coach believes he knows how progress can be clinched

Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez has underlined the importance of concentration to his side's Europa League campaign.

The Blues dropped into Europe's second-tier cup competition after the defence of their Champions League title ended in the group stages - an eventuality which cost then-manager Roberto Di Matteo his job.

The west London club are now led by a coach who has both trophies on his CV, and the Spaniard says he will need to utilise all his experience to get beyond Sparta Prague in the last 32.

"I won the UEFA Cup with Valencia and got to the semis with Liverpool," he told reporters.

"In a knockout competition you have to concentrate really well as the little things can make a difference. That's what I try to do and maybe that's why I've been successful.

"Sparta are a good team and they have had time to prepare for the match. It will be a massive game for them; they have quality and are good passers of the ball.

"They recently signed the top scorer in the league [David Lafata] and it's important for me to explain to my players that it will be a tough test."

Chelsea cannot select January signing Demba Ba in the Europa League due to his appearances in the competition earlier in the season with Newcastle.

And Benitez admits this will be a problem, with Fernando Torres the only other recognised striker currently at the club.

He continued: "It's a problem, but we'll try to keep Fernando fit, playing well and hopefully scoring goals. If we have to manage in a different way because we don't have him for any reason, we will have to, but Victor Moses is coming back and he's an option to play as a striker.

"The perception is that Fernando hasn't scored goals, but he already has 15. He was scoring at the beginning of the season and then again when I just arrived.

4/1 Sparta Prague are 4/1 with Coral to beat Chelsea on Thursday night

"He hasn't scored for a couple of games but he was playing as a lone striker for a long time. I said when we signed Demba Ba it would be good for him because if you rest one of them they can be fit for the next game, but I think he will start scoring goals again."

One player who will be available, however, is John Terry, with the centre-back having overcome injury to make the trip to Prague.

Benitez added: "All the players that are here can play tomorrow. We knew Terry had to adapt after the games, there was no reaction in his knee which was positive. Obviously you have to train and play matches, but it's just a question of time so that he can reach his real level.

"Our defensive record was quite good because we were conceding half the number of goals we had been before.

"If you win 4-1, you may not have kept a clean sheet but you have scored four goals. We have a good record and I think we are the second best team in the Premier League in terms of clean sheets. It's good, but it can be better, and we have to find the right balance."