Rafael Benitez certain Chelsea can deal with fixture congestion

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez
Rafael Benitez

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez believes his team have the spirit to be a success this season despite their heavy fixture list.

Benitez's team progressed to the Europa League quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over Steaua Bucharest.

It means that after the international break they could play as many as 11 games between 30 March and 4 May.

"I prefer to have this problem because it means we're carrying on and competing," Benitez said.

The victory over Steaua, which saw Chelsea score the two second-half goals they needed to reach the last eight, followed them fighting back from two goals down to secure a 2-2 FA Cup quarter-final draw with Manchester United.

Benitez added: "The comeback against United we showed character, passion, commitment and quality and [the win over Steaua] was exactly the same.

"It was a great victory, a great game, against a good team. Everybody here on our side will be pleased because it was a great performance."

Fernando Torres scored the decisive goal against the Romanians for just his second in 20 matches but hit the bar with a late penalty.

Benitez is optimistic that the striker is finding form at the right time as his team enter the final two months of the season.

The interim manager added: "He has confidence now and he can take the responsibility. We are quite pleased because he was taking the responsibility.

"It's good. He scored and after he had more confidence and that is positive for the team and positive for him for the future. Hopefully it will be the first of a lot."

Chelsea host West Ham before the international break but then begin a hectic end to their season.

They have a Premier League game on 30 March and an FA Cup replay against Manchester United on 1 April.

If they defeat United, they will also have a semi-final against City on 13 or 14 April, which means they will have to reschedule their Premier League fixture against Spurs on 14 April.

If they lose to United, they will have six Premier League fixtures between 30 March and 4 May.

And if Benitez's team make it through their two-legged Europa League quarter-final, they will also have to play both legs of a semi-final, on 25 April and 2 May.

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