Rafa - Abramovich is the key

Image: Benitez: Ready for Euro showdown

Rafa Benitez believes club owner Roman Abramovich is more important to Chelsea than manager Avram Grant.

Liverpool boss glad to see the back of Mourinho

Rafa Benitez believes club owner Roman Abramovich is more important to Chelsea than either manager Avram Grant or former boss Jose Mourinho. Liverpool chief Benitez is preparing his side for Tuesday's UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg at Anfield as the Reds take on Chelsea in the final four in Europe for the third time in four seasons. The Reds enjoy the edge over Chelsea having twice knocked their West London opponents, who were then under the leadership of Mourinho, out at the semi-final stage. Benitez and Mourinho - who made a shock departure from Stamford Bridge in September last year - experienced a fiery relationship, but the former appears keen to retain the tense rivalry with Chelsea after claiming that Abramovich is more important to the Blues than current boss Grant.

Key

"The key to them is Abramovich," said Benitez. "The only difference I see between Mourinho and Grant is in their press conferences! "I watched the game at Everton and they were playing the same as they always did. "They have been in the final of the Carling Cup, they face us in the semi-finals of the Champions League and they are still in the race for the title. "They have enough good players to win. So we must be really careful and have a lot of respect for them."
Under pressure
Benitez, though, does not want to criticise Grant - who has come under pressure following a difficult first season in charge of Chelsea - but the Spaniard admits that he is glad to see the back of Mourinho. "I don't like to talk about Grant," added Benitez. "As a manager, I have a lot of respect for him because he's being correct. I have nothing bad to say. "The media might miss Mourinho, but not me. I have enough things to do in Liverpool now. At the end of the day, the players are the key more than the managers. "Managers can talk before the game but, during the game, the players make the difference. "The best thing for a manager to do is not create any mess so the players can just play."

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