Chelsea have one foot in for a second consecutive European cup final ahead of their Europa League semifinal second leg against FC Basel on May 2. Their 2-1 victory in Switzerland has given them the aggregate and away-goal advantage. Basel will need to score two without reply to advance, a task made all the more difficult as the Blues have not failed to score at home since a 1-0 defeat to QPR on January 9.
Attendance at Stamford Bridge has been poor for the Europa League ties, with 33,000 fans turning up for the quarterfinal against Rubin Kazan. The supporters are suffering a huge comedown from the high of 2012, but while they are disinterested in Europe’s second-tier competition, the players are desperate to salvage some silverware from this season.
Ashley Cole is suspended for the home side, having picked up a yellow card in Switzerland so Ryan Bertrand will be recalled to the starting 11. Frank Lampard is just one goal behind the current club record of 202, and with Ramires having left their last match against Swansea City injured, the veteran midfielder could reach his milestone in this match.
With one eye on the Premier League fixture against Manchester United on Sunday, Rafael Benitez is likely to start with this lineup in a 4-2-3-1.
FC Basel’s recent form has been poor. They have recorded just one win in their last five matches and are only three points clear at the top of the Swiss Super League. Having failed to qualify for the Champions League via the playoffs they have it all to prove against last year’s winners, and will start a strong 11 in a classic 4-3-3 formation.
Chelsea are 1/2 on to win the match, with a draw good value at 10/3. While FC Basel proved they were no pushovers against Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea’s away goals advantage should see them comfortably through to the final in Amsterdam on May 15.