FC Basel will be on the offensive when they take the Stamford Bridge pitch on Thursday evening.
The Swiss team need to make up a 2-1 deficit (including two away goals) to advance to the Europa League final in Amsterdam later this month.
But a promising team performance against Swansea last weekend and an even more promising interview from a certain (soon-to-be ex) Real Madrid manager a few nights ago puts the Blues’ in good stead to make European footballing history by winning the elite competition and the secondary in consecutive seasons.
Ashley Cole is suspended whilst his expected replacement, Ryan Bertrand as well David Luiz, Ramires and John Mikel Obi are a caution away from missing the final should Chelsea progress.
The temperament and composure of the latter trio will surely be tested as Basel will come on the offensive, despite never registering a win on English soil – they have absolutely nothing to lose.
Rafael Benitez’ turn in the Chelsea revolving hot seat is nearly at it’s end, and the Spainard would surely enjoy adding a European trophy to his CV before exiting through the Stamford Bridge back door. He won this competition with Valencia in 2004.
Benitez refused to talk about Jose Mourinho in Wednesday’s pre-match conference.
Torres will start ahead of the ineligible Demba Ba and will want to continue his European goal scoring form. Questions remain over whether or not John Terry, who at times looked fairly suspect against Swansea will oust the favourable Luiz, Ivanovic centre back pairing.
The much-maligned competition may just be a silver lining on what would be a forgettable season in West London, and would give Chelsea the chance to hold both European trophies at the same time, albeit for a fortnight.
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