Chelsea vs Basel preview
After two thrilling encounters in this week’s Champions League semi-finals, England’s last hope for European silverware gets ready for an all-out assault on the Europa League tonight in their first-leg away tie against FC Basel.
April 25th, 2013
The Swiss side which eliminated Spurs in the quarter-finals has now reached their record level of European competition but will face a Chelsea side determined to have something to show for a season of transition, as Rafa Benitez aims to leave Stamford Bridge with something to hold up in the face of the condemnation he has so roundly received from Blues fans.
He’ll have the able backing of recently-returned squad members Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole; the former has recovered from knee surgery while the latter picked up a hamstring injury as an unfortunate April Fool.
Meanwhile, opponents Basel have lost the services of their striker Alexander Frei, who retired from playing the game since dispatching Spurs, to take up a boardroom job at his first club Lucerne. Despite their success in reaching their furthest ever European position, they’ll be wary of a hungry Chelsea side which has only this trophy and a top-four finish to play for.
Fernando Torres, who has found some semblance of form under his new old manager Rafael Benitez, told UEFA.com:
“Now we’re in the semi-finals everyone can see we want to win and the team I think is happy.
“The competition is helping the team a lot because it is giving us a lot of satisfaction – not like in the Premier League this season, and we lost the semi-final of the FA Cup, so we were also close.
“But the Europa League is keeping us in a good mood and thinking it could be a good season.”