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Jesus determined to book Europa League berth

Jorge Jesus called on his SL Benfica side to "win a place in the Europa League" by beating an FC Schalke 04 side whose coach Felix Magath is wary of Benfica's home form.

Jesus determined to book Europa League berth
Jesus determined to book Europa League berth ©UEFA.com

Jorge Jesus is hoping his SL Benfica team can gain the victory they require to secure a place in the UEFA Europa League, rather than relying on fourth-placed Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC failing to overcome Olympique Lyonnais in the other final Group B encounter. Jesus says Benfica's only goal is "to win" against leaders FC Schalke 04, who will top the section if they match or better Lyon's result but whose coach, Felix Magath, is wary of the opposition's strength on home soil.

Jorge Jesus, Benfica coach
A win would give us three victories and we wouldn't depend on the other result to qualify for the Europa League. We have ambitions for the Europa League and we feel that we could do better than last season, when we reached the quarter-finals, because we are a more experienced side now. Our initial goal for the Champions League was not achieved. Our ambition was to progress from the group stage.

We lost due to small details and a lack of experience, but we'll learn from it and it will be useful for us in the Europa League. Schalke are very strong physically – in Germany [a 2-0 defeat on Matchday 3] we lost almost all the individual battles so we have to approach this match in a different way. There is only one goal for tomorrow, to win a place in the Europa League.

Felix Magath, Schalke coach
Our capabilities will be tested because Benfica are very strong at home, especially in attack, and we have to keep them under control. Lyon were semi-finalists last season and at the beginning they were favourites to win the group. Benfica had a bad night against Hapoel [losing 3-0 on Matchday 5] and I think it was decisive in their performance in the group. We quickly want to get Benfica's attack under control and we aim to give our all as well because we want to score as soon as possible.

Team news
Pablo Aimar returned from a right thigh injury on Friday, while midfielder Airton is back in training following a similar injury he picked up in mid-November.

Magath confirmed Raúl González is "fit and available" after the striker was replaced 60 minutes into Saturday's victory against FC Bayern München, while Christian Pander came on in that game for his first appearance since 10 May 2009 following persistent muscular problems. Junmin Hao (appendectomy), Tim Hoogland (knee and pancreatitis) and Levan Kenia (ankle) are all back in training.

Weekend results
03/12/10 Benfica 2-0 SC Olhanense
(Cardozo 43, Saviola 81)
Óscar Cardozo's third goal in two games set Benfica on course for their ninth successive home win in all competitions.

04/12/10 Schalke 2-0 FC Bayern München
(Jurado 58, Höwedes 67)
Schalke have not conceded in their last four home fixtures in all competitions, scoring 12 times in the process.

Did you know?
Benfica have played 33 competitive games against Bundesliga opposition (W8 D12 L13). They have lost only one of 15 home fixtures, FC Bayern München running out 3-1 winners in the 1995/96 UEFA Cup third round for a 7-2 aggregate success.

See the match background for more information.