Rafa Benitez says Chelsea will need to be at their best if they are to progress into the final of the Europa League. The Blues face Basel tonight in the first leg of the semi-final and will be hoping to take an advantage back home to Stamford Bridge for the second leg. Like Chelsea, Basel began this season in the Champions League before being knocked out at the group stage. But they have impressed on their run to the semi-final, knocking out Tottenham in a thrilling quarter final on penalties.
Chelsea welcome Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill back to the squad. They have missed the last three weeks with hamstring and knee injuries respectively. With Demba Ba ineligible, Fernando Torres looks certain to start up front and will be hoping to continue his impressive Europa League form.
As always with Rafa’s rotation policy, you can never quite guess the starting line-up. But after being left out of the starting XI on Sunday, Frank Lampard and John Terry are likely to start.
This is Chelsea’s seventh European semi-final in the Abramovich era.
It is also the 18th semi-final in all competitions since Abramovich bought the club.
If Chelsea win the Europa League, they will effectively be the champions of the Europa League AND Champions League for ten days (the Champions League final takes place ten days after the Europa League final)
Basel have never reached a European semi-final before.
Chelsea have not played a Swiss team for 13 years – St Gallen in the Uefa Cup.
Jonathan Davies @JonathanCDavies