Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel is desperate not to miss out on Champions League football next season and avoid playing on Thursday nights in the Europa League. Follow GOAL.COM on Twitter
The Blues qualified for Europe's elite club competition this term by lifting the trophy last May, only to suffer a group stage exit to become the first defending champion to be knocked out in the first round.
Chelsea now finds itself in the Europa League quarterfinals - with a healthy 3-1 lead over Rubin Kazan from the first leg - but Mikel says, despite having a chance to win the second tier competition, Champions League qualification is still the No.1 target.
"No disrespect to the Europa League but when you saw the game on Thursday, it was not [the same]," Mikel told the Evening Standard. "You get that buzz when you hear the song of the Champions League, it's different. I don't know [what the Europa League song is].
"We want to be involved in the Champions League again next season...It's been frustrating to watch [the Champions League games] and see them [teams like Barcelona] play, while we have to play on Thursday nights. I have been here several years and never played football on Thursday nights. So, hopefully, next season we are not going to be in it."
Chelsea currently occupies the final automatic group stage qualification spot in the Premier League, with fourth-placed Tottenham lying on the same points return having played a game more and Arsenal two points further back.
"We want to be in the top four, top three, whatever, we want to be in the Champions League," Mikel insisted.
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