After a great result at Villa Park last Saturday, Chelsea host Benfica at the Bridge only needing to avoid defeat to progress to the Champions League Semi Final.
The solid team performance and win in Lisbon last week is further boosted by this season’s home form, with Chelsea winning all 4 home fixtures this campaign, scoring 14 and only conceding 1. David Luiz’s performances of late have seen him become a key part of Chelsea’s backline but he is a major doubt after suffering an ankle ligament injury at Aston Villa. Branislav Ivanovic (hamstring) and Didier Drogba (toe) are also doubts after aggravating existing injuries in recent weeks but will both be given late fitness tests. Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Petr Cech and Daniel Sturridge all sat out parts of training on Monday as precautions but are expected to be fit for Wednesday.
Benfica travel to West London with injury troubles of their own, with Ezequiel Garay, Jardel and Miguel Vitor are all set to miss the tie. Benfica manager Jorje Jesus believed that the loss from the first leg was unfair on his side, the claim was probably just, but they also did not deserve a win. Subdued performances from key players Oscar Cardozo, Axel Witsel and Nicolas Gaitan were certainly noticeable in Lisbon and they will be relied upon to raise their game in the second leg. The potency showed by these 3 against Manchester United earlier this year indicated what they are capable of, take them lightly and you will be punished.
Benfica are not a side to be underestimated. Although they failed to produce a final product at the Estádio da Luz, there were glimpses of a side who knew how to cause problems for any back four and the likely centre back pairing of Cahill and Terry will certainly have to be alert. Possession will be key to controlling the game and with Torres, Mata and Sturridge all looking in great shape, it’s hard to see Chelsea not scoring. Even with the FA Cup in mind, a rotated Chelsea side should be able to able progress to the semi finals. My prediction: 2-0.