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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 his club's next opponent, Newcastle.

Benfica's director of football Rui Costa says Chelsea and Tottenham are favorites for the UEFA Europa League crown.

The Eagles will play Newcastle in the quarterfinals after avoiding the two London clubs, and the two legs will be played on April 4 and 11, with the first match being played in Portugal. The Lisbon-based club tops the Primeira Liga table, and the former AC Milan midfielder was pleased to not have to play the two other English clubs still in the competition, citing them as the two strongest teams left.

Chelsea was drawn against Russian club Rubin Kazan, while Tottenham will face Swiss side FC Basel.

"They're [Chelsea and Spurs] the biggest favorites in this competition. But we most focus on this game, and not focus on whether we are playing against the favorites or not," Rui Costa said.

Benfica enjoyed a 4-2 aggregate win against Bordeaux to progress to the last eight, but the 40-year-old says the 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," Rui 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."

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