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May 2, 2013

Mata urges Chelsea to attack Basel

Chelsea lead FC Basel 2-1 on aggregate heading into the second leg of their Europa League semi-final tie against the Swiss Champions at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.

Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata has warned his team-mates not to spurn a strong advantage in the second leg of their semi-final Europa League tie against FC Basel on Thursday.

• Benitez unfazed by Mourinho

The Blues host their Swiss opponents at Stamford Bridge with a one goal lead and two valuable away goals from the first leg, but Mata believes Rafa Benitez's side can ill afford to rely on defence and must attack a desperate Basel.

"It's going to be a dangerous game," Mata said. Even though we have two goals away, a great result, it's that kind of game that can be very risky.

"If we don't go into the game thinking about winning, thinking about defending well, thinking about trying to win again, it's going to be difficult. We still know we have to fight if we're going to be in the final.

"We got a great result in Switzerland, but now we have to play another 90 minutes and I'm sure they're not going to give up. They're a team who try until the end. It will be tough, for sure."

Basel scored two important away goals against Tottenham in the quarter-finals to aid their progression and Chelsea's interim manager Benitez is concerned about his players looking ahead to the final.

"We have an opportunity, but my concern is we'll be thinking we're in the final - it's not the case," Benitez said. "We'll play against a very good team, a team that has scored goals away, so everybody has to realise it will be tough, it will be difficult.

"I think they will come trying to score. They did it against Tottenham. I'm sure they will be offensive, they will push. They will try to score because it's the only way for them to qualify.

"I am concerned, but I'm not afraid. We know it's a dangerous team. We're so close to the final we have to be really focused, concentrated and not make mistakes. I have a lot of confidence in my players."

Although defending their Champions League title was the main priority for Chelsea, Mata believes success in the Europa League can provide a boost ahead of next year's competition in the top flight and help remedy the woes of exiting at the group stage this season.

"Our aims have to be winning this trophy and obviously being in the Champions League next season," Mata added. "Chelsea is a club which deserves to be in the Champions League every season. We can do it. If we play like we've been playing, all together, I think we can do both.

"Every time I watch a game on the TV from the Champions League I think it's a shame. But, on the other hand, I'd rather be positive and think we have the chance to win another trophy, as we did last season. Now we have another chance.

"For the team and for the club it's very important to have the chance to be in another European final. After winning the Champions League last season we have the chance to be in another final, trying to win another trophy, which will be new for the club. It means a lot for the club, for the supporters, for the players."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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