Chelsea and Tottenham are Europa League heavyweights, says Rui Costa

The Benfica sporting director says he is pleased to have avoided the two London clubs in Friday's draw, but still has a lot respect for their next opponents Newcastle
Benfica's director of football Rui Costa says Chelsea and Tottenham are favourites for the Europa League crown.

Following Friday's draw it has been announced the Eagles will play Newcastle in the quarter-finals. The ties will be played on April 4 and 11, with the first leg being played in Portugal.

The Lisbon-based club are top of the Primeira Liga 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 Spurs] the biggest favourites in this competition. But we most focus on this game, and not focus on whether we are playing against the favourites or not," said the former Portugal international.

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.

He added: "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.

"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.