Chelsea’s fixture pile-up continues as they head to St-Jakob Park for the opening leg of their Europa League semi final with FC Basel.
The Blues are bidding to become only the fourth side to win all three of UEFA’s major club competitions, having won the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971 and 1998 as well as last season’s Champions League.
With Turkish and Portuguese giants Fenerbahce and Benfica facing off in the other semi-final, the challenge of the Swiss outfit should hold no fear for the still-reigning European champions. However, Rafael Benitez’ men would be ill-advised to take the tie too lightly, particularly considering the way Basel dispatched Tottenham Hotspur in the last round, having also knocked Manchester United out of last season’s Champions League.
Chelsea could call upon Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill again after the two England defenders travelled to Switzerland after spells on the sidelines with hamstring and knee injuries respectively. Brazilian midfielder Oscar has also travelled despite a groin problem, while Demba Ba is cup-tied meaning Fernando Torres will come in, along with the likes of Victor Moses, John Terry and Frank Lampard.
Chelsea forward Torres said: “We have a young squad, we need to learn winning ways and this is a very good way.
“Now we’re in the semi-finals everyone can see we want to win and the team I think is happy.
“The competition is helping the team a lot because it is giving us a lot of satisfaction – not like in the Premier League this season, and we lost the semi-final of the FA Cup, so we were also close.
“But the Europa League is keeping us in a good mood and thinking it could be a good season.”
Basel meanwhile have been hit by the abrupt retirement of legendary striker Alexander Frei following their victory over Tottenham in the last eight. The Swiss striker has since become sporting director at fellow Swiss League club Lucerne.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Basel