BENITEZ SIZES UP SEMI-FINALS

Posted on: Fri 12 Apr 2013

Rafael Benitez is preparing for his first game at Wembley Stadium as a manager and has been speaking about the FA Cup semi-final and our semi-final in the Europa League, now our opponents in that competition are known.

We were drawn against Basel as our reward for knocking out Rubin Kazan this week but before we face the Swiss side over two legs, we take on Manchester City on Sunday as we defend the FA Cup.

Squad news
Benitezreported Demba Ba and Ryan Bertrand took part in Friday's light training session at Cobham.

Ba came off in last weekend's win over Sunderland due to an ankle injury and Bertrand missed the midweek trip to Russia due to illness. Ba was ineligible for that game.

They are expected to be available to take on Man City and there are no new injury concerns following the Rubin Kazan match

Ashley Cole (hamstring), Gary Cahill (knee) as well as long-term casualty Oriol Romeu remain out.

On facing Man City
When we played Roberto Mancini 's side away in February we lost 2-0, having drawn 0-0 in the earlier home league encounter. Benitez believes the team has learnt from the most recent meeting.

'Man City are in a good position in the table and they did well again Man United the other day so we know it will be difficult,' he said.

'It is a semi-final and a massive competition and we know what we did wrong when we played against them. We will try to do these things well on Sunday.'

Man City were last in action on Monday in Manchester whereas we have had a journey to Moscow and back since.

'That is always an advantage [for the opposition], I don't know how much but we are trying to manage our squad and team selection and we have some players with fresh legs. Hopefully we will be fine and we will have to do it the same way to the end of the season.

'The squad are doing really well. They are working very hard and I can change players and still keep a good level, so I am really pleased with that.'

In other news
Benitez shared his thoughts on drawing Basel in the Europa League.

'Every possible opponent could be difficult because they are all good teams,' he said.

'We were thinking which one could be the best and in terms of the fixtures that we have and the number of games we have, Basel is not too far away and maybe it is a good option, but just because of that, not because of the team because their team is good and they did well against Tottenham.

'They are an offensive team, they play with intensity and we know that there is a great atmosphere in their stadium. It will be interesting.'