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Dec 5, 2012

Rafa: We don't need a miracle

Rafael Benitez insists he does not need another miracle to rescue Chelsea from Champions League humiliation, but acknowledges the Blues need to rediscover their hunger.

• Brewin: Rafa may miss out again

Benitez famously masterminded what was dubbed "The Miracle of Istanbul" in 2005 when Liverpool produced one of the greatest comebacks in European Cup final history to beat AC Milan, but he does not believe taking Chelsea through would be an achievement on the same scale.

The Blues need to beat Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridge while hoping Shakhtar Donetsk produce the same result against Juventus if they are to avoid becoming the first Champions League holders to crash out of the competition before Christmas.

Benitez acknowledged Chelsea might need "a bit of luck'' but said: "I don't think it's a miracle. We have to do our job and wait for the other teams.''

The Spaniard, who had an ill-fated spell in charge of Inter Milan after they won the competition, admitted it was "normal'' for teams to lose some of their hunger the following season.

He said: "It's like: 'Okay, we have done the most difficult thing'. It changes a little bit the perception, changes a little bit the approach for the next competition. That is the difficult thing, to manage the hunger of the players and the hunger of the staff. It's part of our job to push them and try and try to keep the competition.''

Nordsjaelland boss Kasper Hjulmand, meanwhile, is aiming to deliver the knockout blow to Chelsea's Champions League hopes and exploit the unrest at the club.

Hjulmand backed the European champions to weather the supporter revolt against Benitez and their alarming slump in form over the past six weeks, but he was hoping to delay their revival by claiming the greatest triumph in the Danish champions' history.

Hjulmand said: "They have a little dip right now but they'll come back and they'll show who they are in the near future. Hopefully not [against us] but, after that, it's just a matter of time.''

Benitez is expected to be the victim of more jeers, abuse and protest banners at Wednesday's game.

"It is weird,'' Hjulmand said of the fan reaction. "The psychology is, of course, to see if we have a result as far as possible. We can only focus on what's important for us and that's what we're going to do on the pitch, no matter what happens outside, no matter what we see or hear.

"This is all about us performing and we have to be very concentrated and play maybe our best match ever to get a result.''

The result of the match at Stamford Bridge will become irrelevant in any case should Juventus avoid defeat at Shakhtar, and there has been talk that the teams could play for a mutually beneficial draw.

Juve midfielder Andrea Pirlo insists that will not be the case.

"Any talk of playing for a draw is not true of any of the players here at Juventus and I am sure it is not true of the Shakhtar players," Pirlo said. "We want to win the group and I am sure Shakhtar do as well. We have no duty to help Chelsea, but we have a duty to ourselves and to our fans to try and win the group."

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