Europa League: Chelsea and Benfica to Edge Close Ties
In the Europa League semifinals, Swiss side FC Basel host Chelsea as Fenerbahce prepare to host current Portuguese Liga side SL Benfica.A win tonight will take Chelsea a step closer to becoming the first club from England to win all three major European trophies: the Champions League, the European Super Cup and the Europa League.
Lets take a deeper look into the match preview of both the Europa League semifinals:
Basel v Chelsea
St Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland
Thursday, 25th April, 2013
Referee: Pavel Kralovec (Czech Republic)
Basel will go into this game feeling very confident because they have not lost a single league match at home all season, conceding just seven goals from all home fixtures.
If you’re betting for this game then Basel will be the underdogs due to a little inconsistency in their recent form with two draws in their last five games. That record includes the penalty shoot out win against Tottenham in the last round.
Kay Voser is the only player who will miss this first leg due to injury and Raul Bobadilla will not play as he’s ineligible for Europa League, which will force the team into an attacking re-think.
Chelsea won’t take great heart from their away form in the Premier League, which has seen them lose five games this season. However, they have an attack which has scored just four goals fewer than Manchester United, which means they will get chances.
One of the best strategies with this game is to wait and see how they start the match because recent form has been very inconsistent; two wins, two defeats and a single draw.
Chelsea have three players who are rated as 50/50 in terms of their fitness ahead of this game, which is unsurprising considering the amount of games they have played this season; Ashley Cole, Gary Cahill and Marko Marin.
Fenerbahce v Benfica
Sukru Saravoglu Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey
Thursday, 25th April, 2013
Referee: Milrad Mazic (Serbia)
Fenerbahce go into this game looking to prove a point as they trail Galatasaray by seven point in the Turkish Super Lig and with very solid domestic home form; they have lost just three games.
The Turkish side will be without Emre Belozoglu as the midfielder is ineligible for them in the Europa League but that’s the only player they will be missing, with a fully fit squad of players to choose from.
They go into the game on the back of some poor form which has seen a defeat and a draw from their last two games. However, they have played just one of their last five games in front of their own fans, which unsurprisingly produced a solid win.
Benfica have been battling away at the top of the Portuguese league with Porto all season and they have to be the favourites, as they head into this game having not lost a domestic away game all year.
Before the 1-1 draw away at Newcastle United in the last round of this competition, they went on a run which saw them produce a staggering 17 wins from 19 matches in all competitions.
Rui Fonte is the only play Benfica have missing for this match and he’s unlikely to play again this season, as he’s suffering with a bad cruciate ligament injury which means a July return.