Both Chelsea and interim manager Rafael Benitez are chasing history as they prepare to face Benfica in Amsterdam in the final of the Europa League.
Should the Blues take victory, they will not only be the first side to hold both the Champions League and the Europa League titles at the same time (with this year’s Champions League final being held on May 25), but will also become only the fourth team to make it a clean sweep of European titles, along with the Champions League and Cup Winners’ Cup, along with Bayern Munich, Juventus and Ajax. Indeed, should Benitez guide his side to victory then he will also become only the second manager ever to win the Europa League with two different clubs after his previous success in 2004 with Valencia.
However, the challenge of Benfica should prove to be a hugely difficult one, despite the good memory of Chelsea’s win over the Portuguese giants in the quarter finals of last year’s Champions League.
The Blues have major doubts over defender and captain John Terry, as well as key attacker Eden Hazard after both had to be forced off during Saturday’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa with ankle and hamstring injuries respectively.
Those possible absences mean that either Gary Cahill or Branislav Ivanovic will partner David Luiz in central-defence, provided the Brazilian is not used in central-midfield where Frank Lampard, fresh from becoming Chelsea’s record goalscorer at the weekend, is vying for a start. Up front, Demba Ba is ineligible so Fernando Torres, who has scored five times in the competition since the turn of the year, will surely be given the nod.
Benfica meanwhile are fresh from suffering the heartache of a dramatic last-minute defeat against rivals Porto at the weekend, a result that gives the latter the Portuguese Primer Liga title at Jorge Jesus’ side’s expense.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Benfica