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Mar 26, 2012

Benfica's Garcia targets Chelsea scalp

Javi Garcia believes Benfica can advance to the Champions League semi-finals at the expense of Chelsea as the two clubs prepare to do battle in Tuesday's quarter-final first leg.

Benfica have already helped eliminate one English side from this season's competition, drawing home and away with Manchester United on the way to finishing top of Group C - two places above the reigning Premier League champions.

And midfielder Garcia is hoping to add Chelsea to the list of English sides conquered by Benfica in the European Cup, with Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool all previously tasting defeat against the Portuguese giants.

"This year we have already knocked out Manchester United in the group stage," Garcia told Goal.com. "Let's see if we can carry on our good results against English teams in the quarter-finals.

"The Champions League draw wasn't bad for Benfica. Our objective for the quarter-finals was not to face Barca, Madrid or Bayern and that has been achieved. The team is looking very strong in terms of morale and we are going into this tie in the best possible moment of the season.

"The tie is very open and even. If some people are making Chelsea favourites then that can even be good for us because it transmits all of the pressure onto them, but the truth is that either side can go through.

"With the change of coach, it seems Chelsea have been positively transformed. That will give even more intensity to this tie. It's 50-50 but I think we have a good chance to carry on making history."

Benfica overcame a first-leg deficit to beat Zenit St Petersburg in the second round, but Garcia recognises Jorge Jesus' side could do with a first-leg win this time, with the return match against Chelsea being played at Stamford Bridge.

"We are not too happy at having to play the return in London, but at this stage of the competition and with the aim of being in the semi-finals, we will give it everything in London - whatever the result is at A Luz," he said.

"The team are fighting for everything this season and we are at a very high level. Things are going really well but we still haven't won [a trophy]. Now we are entering the decisive matches of the season and we cannot let up."

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