The Europa League was not to be taken seriously at the beginning of the season for Chelsea, but they are hoping it can be responsible for improved performances right about now, same effect it had 6 years ago.
Their humiliating defeat against Manchester City where they conceeded 6 goals and scored nothing is still playing in everyone’s head as they get ready to face Malmo in today’s Europa League clash.
Having a manager faced with a terrible league form as he attempts to qualify for the next round of the Europa League is like histor repeating itself, as former manager, Rafa Benitez was in the same, exact shoes in 2013.
6 years ago, Rafa’s team visited Prague to face Sparta after just four wins in their previous 11 league games. Confidence was shattered as Chelsea had been eleiminated from the League Cup by Swansea and had also lost to QPR and Newcastle at home and away respectively.
It was so poor that Benitez and his boys could only earn a draw vs League One club, Brentford, in the FA Cup. But fortunately for them, they began to regain their mojo and confidence gradually and many felt it was linked to Chelsea beginning to want to win the Europa League.
So, like the firm belief to win Europa under Benitez coinciding with an improved league form, any type of win over Malmo in the Europa League tonight will at least give fans a little hope.
Sarri had his say: “We need short-term targets and then a dream in the long-term. Tonight is the most important.
“Then, on Monday, the FA Cup will be the most important. Then we have to play the final of the League Cup, so that will be the most important.
“Then we have to return to the Premier League, and that will be the most important.
“[Tonight] the target is to qualify or have a good result. On Monday, the target will be to get into the quarter-finals. Then to win the League Cup.”
However, Malmo boss Uwe Rosler, a former Manchester City striker, believes beating Chelsea is dooable.
His words, “The mindset is ‘no respect’. It will be difficult but the stadium will be cooking. The crowd will be behind us.”