Chelsea have arguably been a side in transition this season, but once again find themselves in a major European final just 12 months after winning the Champions League for the first time in their history, with that memorable night in Munich.
Victory in Amsterdam tomorrow night would mean they would become the first club to win the Champions League and then Europa League in successive seasons. Chelsea will be looking to record some silverware to show for what has been a long hard season for the Blues, losing out in the FIFA World Club Cup Final, Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup and making it to the semi-finals of both domestic competitions. The club will have played 69 games by the end of the season. More than any other Chelsea side.
A lacklustre Chelsea struggled to make much of an impact in the group stage of this year’s Champions league, with Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk deservedly qualifying for the knockout stages. Roberto Di Matteo paid the price for the poor Champions League campaign and was replaced by Rafael Benitez. Our third-placed finish allowing us to qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League.
Chelsea on Wednesday will find themselves against familiar opposition in Benfica, who beat Fenerbahce to reach the final. Chelsea have fond memories of the Portuguese outfit after beating them in the Quarter Finals of last year’s Champions League adventure.
Fernando Torres is expected to once again start up front with Demba Ba ineligible. The Spaniard has found form this season in Europe scoring five along the way. Victor Moses who has also been in form scoring four is expected to replace Hazard. John Terry and Eden Hazard will travel with the squad but are highly likely to miss out after injuries against Aston Villa. Frank Lampard after his record-breaking exploits at the weekend is expected to now start in midfield.
Chelsea will have to be wary of Benfica’s Oscar Cardozo, Nicolas Gaitan and blast from the past, Pablo Aimar. Former Chelsea man Nemanja Matic controls things in the middle of the park for the Portuguese side, the blues will be hoping he doesn’t come back to haunt them.
Route to the final.
Europa League Last -32
VS Sparta Prague
Away W 1-0 – A late goal from substitute Oscar, proved enough to take Chelsea into the second leg with a slender lead. Chelsea began the match well but struggled to break through a compact Sparta Prague backline.
Home D 1-1 Sparta Prague took an early lead in the return match; once again Chelsea struggled to convert chances and were heading into extra time until Eden Hazard burst through the defence to bullet a shot into the back of the net in the 92nd minute to send Chelsea through to the next round. (Chelsea won 2-1 on aggregate)
Europa League Last 16
Vs Steaua Bucharest
Away L 1-0 – Once again Chelsea struggled in the away in Europe as they slumped to a disappointing 1-0 loss against the Romanian outfit. A first half penalty from Raul Rusescu was enough to produce a shock result.
Home W 3-1 Goals from Juan Mata, John Terry and Fernando Torres helped Chelsea into the next round, not before Steaua scored just before half time to scare the blues into action. Torres finished the game with a broken nose after being kicked in the face while down in the penalty area, he also failed from the spot late on smashing against the bar.
(Chelsea won 3-2 on aggregate)
Europa League Quarter Final
VS Rubin Kazan
Home W 3-1 A masked Fernando Torres continued his fine form in Europe scoring twice, added to by a Victor Moses effort in what was a quick and decisive start to the second half. Rubin Kazan did manage an away goal through a first half penalty.
Away L 3-2 – Torres was once again on hand to put Chelsea in front lobbing the keeper in the opening minutes to build a commanding lead. Rubin got one back in the second half before Victor Moses responded to give Chelsea a 5-2 aggregate lead before Rubin Kazan mounted a fightback scoring twice late on. Chelsea managed to hold on to an overall success after a difficult night in Russia.
(Chelsea won 5-4 on aggregate)
Europa League Semi- Final
Vs FC Basel
Away W 2-1 Moses opened the scoring early on, heading home from a corner before a late dubious penalty looked to have salvaged a draw for the Swiss side who knocked out Tottenham in the previous round. David Luiz then stepped up in stoppage time, scoring from a low free-kick giving Chelsea the advantage with two priceless away goals.
Home W 3-1 Three goals in ten second-half minutes was enough to ensure Chelsea would be in a major European final for the second year in a row. Basel scored on the stroke of half-time to silence the home fans before Torres and Moses once again scored in Europe, David Luiz rifled a 25-yard screamer to add to Chelsea’s lead as they booked their place in Amsterdam for the Europa League Final.
(Chelsea won 5-2 on aggregate)