With Champions League all but secured for next season after a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, it’s time to turn our attention to the Europa League. In a season where Chelsea had the potential to win 8 competitions, the Champions League’s little brother offers Rafa the last chance to win a trophy.
Rafa cannot afford to underestimate Benfica, who are undoubtedly a quality side. And the Spanish Manager may need to employ our strongest squad if we are to lift the trophy. Here is my pick for our strongest side that I would chose for the Europa League final:
Petr Cech was voted the fan’s man of the match for Chelsea in their 2012 UEFA Champions League final. Cech is the best man to place between the sticks as well hope to win another European Final.
Cesar ‘Dave’ Azpilicueta has proven himself in recent matches to be one of the best right backs in the premier league. The Spaniard is excellent going forwards and solid in defence too.
Reports suggest that Terry will not be available for the Europa League final after picking up an injury against Aston Villa. This is extremely disappointing for the Chelsea Captain who was not able to play in last season’s Champions League final either.
But we have two excellent defenders in Cahill and Ivanovic who can fill in. Although we will certainly lack Terry’s leadership, our defence should not be weakened by his absence.
Despite being 32 years-of-age, Ashley Cole is still one of the best left-backs, if not defenders, in the Premier League. It really is a no brainer for Rafa to pick Cole in defence.
If Mikel is still out with an injury, I would pick Lampard to play in the holding midfield role. The Chelsea veteran’s leadership and experience would be a massive boost for the team, especially with the absence of Terry.
As co-captain, Frankie will wear the armband for his second European Final. And a victory would make a great farewell if the English midfielder is not awarded a new contract at the end of the season.
Luiz can be unpredictable and is not as solid in the holding midfield position as some fans would like. But Luiz has proven that he can win matches almost on his own. It may be a gamble, but I believe Rafa needs to play to former Benfica defender for the dangerous edge he brings to the team.
After Hazard received an injury against Aston Villa, the attacking midfield trio may be one amigo short. I expect Moses will start alongside Oscar and Mata. The former-Wigan star has been excellent for Chelsea since arriving in August. Moses is capable of playing in a variety of positions, but with the injury to Hazard he would be expected to start on the wing.
El Matador has been Chelsea’s best player for a second consecutive season, and if we hope to get the match off to a great start the diminutive Spaniard must start. 21 year-old Oscar has proven to be an impressive talent in his first season at Stamford Bridge. Oscar may be employed as an impact sub, but I believe he should start.
Torres is our inform striker for the Europa League. The Spaniard will have plenty of confidence if he knows that Rafa has chosen him over Moses and Ba to start as striker for the final. And his 5 goals in 8 Europa League matches will be a further boost to his confidence.
What do you think? How would you deal with the gaps created by our injured players? Do you think we should consider changing formation? Share your comments below.