Europa League: FC Basel v Chelsea match preview
A look ahead to tonight’s Europa League semi-final first leg at St. Jakob-Park
Thursday 25 April 2013
The European Champions travel to Switzerland for their Europa League semi-final first leg against FC Basel. Although much has been said about Chelsea’s retrograde step over the course of the past 12 months, Rafael Benitez will be desperate to put some form of silverware in the trophy cabinet at Stamford Bridge, and the Europa League remains his final opportunity to do so.
Both sides started their respective European campaigns in the Champions League, but after failing to qualify for the knockout stages, instead placing third in their groups, they entered the Europa League at the round of 32.
Basel will be looking to defeat English opposition for the second time in as many rounds, after they put paid to Tottenham’s Europa League campaign earlier this month. But the Blues will prove tough opposition for the Swiss champions, as the Londoners attempt to become the first team to win both of UEFA’s leading club competitions in reverse order across successive seasons.
Ashley Cole has returned to the Chelsea squad, following a hamstring injury sustained at the beginning of April, while the home side are without Alex Frei, who has retired since Basel’s quarter-final exploits. The game marks the sides’ first competitive meeting.
KICK-OFF: Thursday, 8.05pm
Basel are the only reigning domestic league champions left in the competition.
Benítez (Valencia 2004) is the only coach left in the competition who has won the trophy previously.
Fernando Torres has scored four goals in his last three Europa League appearances.
Petr Čech and Torres are the only players to have played every minute of Chelsea's UEFA Europa League campaign.
FC Basel to win: 2.8
Chelsea to win: 2.37
TV: Live on ITV 1 at 8.05pm.
Latest in Sport
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...
Loic Remy to Arsenal? Gunners close in on move for QPR and France striker - reports
World Cup 2014: Neymar's agent launches scathing attack on Brazil's Luis Felipe Scolari, labelling him 'an old jerk, arrogant, repulsive, conceited and ridiculous'
Brazil vs Germany match report World Cup 2014: Utter humiliation for hosts as Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos help Germany hit seven past Selecao
World Cup 2014: The 50 best players of the World Cup
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 3 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 4 Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassingly brilliant leaked audio clip
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
Vanessa Feltz criticises 'vile' reaction to Rolf Harris allegations