OSCAR: KEEN TO COMPETE
As the Blues prepare to make our Europa League bow against Sparta Prague tomorrow evening, Oscar has stressed the importance of a successful run in the competition.
Having never lifted the trophy previously, the tournament represents a wonderful opportunity for the club to record back-to-back European triumphs following last season's successful Champions League campaign.
Oscar, who has already made 39 appearances for the club since signing from Internacional last summer, believes a positive sequence of results in the Europa League can aid our domestic form.
'I'm very happy to play in the Europa League for the first time, and I hope we can do really well in the competition,' he tells the official Chelsea website.
'The game against Sparta Prague will be tough, but it will be good for us if we can win the competition as it will help improve our season.
'I feel extremely motivated to compete in the Europa League and I'm sure all the other players are as well, and if we do well in the tournament it will make our season so much better.'
It's fair to suggest that the Brazilian, on a personal level, has enjoyed his time on the European stage in a Chelsea shirt.
His first start for the club came in the Champions League game against Juventus at Stamford Bridge, where he announced his arrival with two stunning goals in a 2-2 draw.
As if that wasn't enough, he followed it up with another sublime strike in the 3-2 win against Shakhtar Donetsk, while also netting in the away game against the Ukrainian side.
'Sometimes it can be more difficult to play in Europe, as you are playing against the very best players, but I like the big games,' says the 21-year-old.
'I did well in the Champions League and hopefully I'm doing well in the Premier League, but for now my focus is on helping the team in the Europa League against Sparta Prague.'
In terms of the match itself, the two teams' preparations couldn't have been more different. Rafael Benitez's side have now played 13 matches since Christmas, while our opponents haven't been involved in a competitive fixture since the beginning of December, a 0-0 draw in the Europa League against Athletic Bilbao.
The Brazilian, however, doesn't believe the home side will have an advantage following their break.
'I don't think so,' says Oscar. 'They've had a lot of time to prepare for the game and they will be aware of what we are capable of, but we are in the middle of our season and we will be ready to put in a strong performance.'