Luiz: Rafa has made me better
Chelsea defender David Luiz has praised Rafael Benitez for improving his performances for the Blues.
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The 25-year-old Brazil international has emerged as Chelsea's first-choice defender in recent weeks and scored a stunning 35-yard goal in the 3-0 Barclays Premier League win at Fulham on Wednesday night.
Luiz told Chelsea TV: "I try my best all the time. Rafa Benitez has helped me a lot.
"I love the philosophy he puts to the Chelsea players.
"He changed my game and helped a lot. He loves football and he sees football like me.
"He wants to play with the ball, he wants to press high and wants to try things.
"He gives me confidence to try some things, like shots and passes to help the team.
"He knows my football, so I like that."
Luiz, who was ridiculed for defensive lapses earlier in his Chelsea career, has been tipped as a potential long-term successor to John Terry as captain, with the 32-year-old former England skipper lauding his team-mate's credentials following the Fulham victory.
Both will be key figures in the final weeks of the season as Benitez seeks to secure Champions League football next term, while also going in search of Chelsea's eighth and final trophy opportunity of the season - in the Europa League, where Basle await in Thursday's semi-final first leg in Switzerland.
First Benitez will take Chelsea to his former club Liverpool tomorrow, with the Blues seeking back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time since December.
Chelsea's remaining six Premier League games are against Liverpool, Swansea, Manchester United, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Everton.
It is a challenging schedule, but Benitez refuses to look beyond Anfield.
"I don't see all the games, I just see the next one," he said.
"For us, it's Liverpool now. If we can get three points we'll be at the top, in the top three.
"Every game will be important between now and the end of the season.
"If we carry on winning our games we'll be in the driving seat (to place third).
"We have enough quality and experience in the squad. If we can beat Liverpool we'll be in a better position.
"After we have the Europa League. Good mood, good momentum - we try to keep these things."
Benitez was reluctant to talk about his history with Liverpool.
He spent six years at Anfield, helping Liverpool to the 2005 Champions League in his first season, the FA Cup, the Community Shield and European Super Cup, while the Reds finished second in the Premier League in 2008-09.
There were numerous duels with Chelsea for trophies and the history led to Blues fans expressing their dissatisfaction with his appointment as successor to Roberto Di Matteo.
Benitez has announced he will be leaving at the end of the season and subsequently the supporters' ire has all but disappeared.
It is not beyond the realms of possibility that he could stay on at Stamford Bridge next season, particularly if he steers Chelsea to third place and the Europa League title.
Benitez, whose wish is to remain at a top side challenging for trophies, ideally in England, would not be drawn on his options for next season.
He said: "The future for me is the next game."