Benayoun: This is our final
Yossi Benayoun has admitted Chelsea are playing to "save our season" against Manchester United on Tuesday night, while he claimed the Blues will win the Champions League if they perform a miracle comeback at Old Trafford.
Chelsea must overturn Wednesday night's 1-0 quarter-final first-leg defeat to keep alive their last remaining realistic hope of silverware this season.
History is against them, with United never having lost a European tie after winning the first leg away from home. On top of that, only two teams have ever won a Champions League tie having lost the first leg at home.
With Chelsea 11 points behind United in the Premier League - but five clear of fifth-placed Tottenham - Benayoun acknowledged their entire campaign rested on Tuesday night's match.
"Everyone knows - the manager, the players - that we are playing to save our season,'' he said. "It's most likely from here we will finish in the top three or four and be in the Champions League next season. That's almost done. The only thing left is to try to win a trophy and the only trophy we can win is the Champions League. We have to do our best and give everything. If we win this game, it will change everything. I'm sure that, if we beat United, we will go to the end and win the trophy. It is our final on Tuesday.''
He added: "I think we have the belief we can do it despite losing 1-0 at home. We can win there. We know we have to do everything because, if not, it will be our last game in the Champions League. We have to give everything and try our best. Let's hope it will be enough.''
Saturday's Premier League win over Wigan saw Benayoun come off the bench to make his first Chelsea appearance for more than six months following a serious Achilles injury.
"When I went on, after a few minutes I found it hard to breathe,'' the 30-year-old said. "I sprinted up and back and just thought, 'Oh my God!'. So I needed a few minutes to recover but that's normal after seven months out.''
Benayoun, who moved to Stamford Bridge from Liverpool last summer, added: "I had a big injury and, since the day I got injured, I've concentrated on getting myself built up and back again. I worked hard and did everything. I'd never been in they gym before I came to Chelsea and I think I've spent the last four months in there working on my own. I might even have got a little bit bigger! I know I'm not ready for 90 minutes but I was happy to play 45.''
That does not mean the Israel captain would not jump at the chance to start on Tuesday.
"I'd be happy if I played five minutes,'' said Benayoun, who could yet prove the man to get the best out of former Liverpool team-mate Fernando Torres. "If the manager asked me to start, I would give everything for as long as I lasted.''