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May, 14, 2013

Benfica boss denies Europa mind games

Benfica head coach Jorge Jesus has denied his players have been attempting to undermine Chelsea after forward Pablo Aimar claimed the current Blues squad was the club's poorest for a decade.

Jesus, speaking the day before his side take on the Londoners in the Europa League final in Amsterdam, said they were not trying to play mind games ahead of the clash.

Benfica are attempting to avoid a seventh successive European final defeat when they step out at the Amsterdam ArenA.

And Aimar said he was bemused that they would probably not be facing a team containing either John Terry or Frank Lampard, neither of whom are now regular Chelsea starters.

He claimed the Chelsea players were not behind interim manager Rafael Benitez, but Jesus said: "No Benfica player has undermined the quality of any Chelsea player or the Chelsea team.

"In my opinion, the strongest teams make the Europa League final. Chelsea is an excellent team, and they will finish third in the Premier League this year. They have quality.''

Jesus said he hoped Benfica could relive past glories, saying: "Benfica is a club that, throughout its history, has had an excellent performance in Europe

"It created a name for itself in the 1960s and 1970s that was there alongside Real Madrid and AC Milan.

"It hasn't been the same since, but Benfica has recovered some of its prestige over the last few years - and we want to create that kind of international prestige again."

Benfica hope to be boosted by the presence of their legendary former player Eusebio, who will be a guest of honour at the final.

"For Eusebio to travel here and share such a moment with us is important for the team,'' skipper Luisao said.

"He is the king, and it's very important that the players know about his importance and his legend, which is still important even today, and use it as a reference point.''

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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