At the start of the season, Chelsea FC had the opportunity to win seven trophies including the FIFA Club World Cup. It can be safely said that none would have imagined Europa League to be amongst that list. Yet, this trophy could actually make Chelsea’s 2012-13 season a decent one.
Chelsea have faced their Europa League final opponents Benfica twice last year and came up with a win in both matches.
I just hope that Chelsea will not be weary for this crucial match. This marathon season has seen us play almost 70 matches, which is a huge number for this small squad. In fact, the number of matches we have played this season is a record for any English club in the top flight.
“The closer you get to a final the more you want to be in it, and we have realised this is a huge European final. We are very much looking forward to it and we want to win it.” – Lampard
Lampard is expected to captain the team.
Eden Hazard and John Terry are major injury doubts for the match. Strangely, it will not be Terry’s absence that will affect the club. Hazard has been one of the standout players for Chelsea this season, but he will not be taking part in the match. His hamstring injury is enough to keep him out of action according to Benitez.
In his absence, one can expect Victor Moses to be included in the starting line-up. Hazard, though, will be a huge miss.
Benfica have been brilliant throughout the season except in the last few weeks. They suffered only their first league defeat of the season during the weekend. The 2-1 defeat against Porto means that the team has not won in the last two matches.
“This season Benfica are a step ahead of the team we beat in the quarter-final last season. They have good balance with experienced players and with speed going forward.” – Petr Cech
Chelsea’s defence needs to be wary of a potent attack from Benfica, who have averaged more than 2.5 goals per game in the league.
For Ramires and David Luiz, this will be a special match as it will be against their former clubs.