Chelsea face last-chance saloon against FC Basel
Chelsea opinion: The west London club can salvage their season with Europa League triumph
Chelsea will travel to ‘the graveyard of English teams’ when they go to FC Basel for the first leg of the Europa League semi final.
The Swiss club knocked Manchester United out of last season’s Champions League and triumphed over Tottenham in the recent Europa League quarter finals in a penalty shoot out after a 4-4 aggregate, but Chelsea will be confident to come away with a victory.
This will be Chelsea’s last chance of a trophy this season as fellow financial giants Manchester City knocked them out of the FA Cup last week.
If Chelsea fail to secure Europa League silverware, it will add to the Stamford Bridge outfit’s disappointing season which started when they became the first Champions League trophy holders not to progress beyond the group stages.
What will add insult to injury is if the Blues fall short of a top four Premier League spot as this will mean the former champions will not compete in next season’s competition.
If they fail to beat their London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham to a top four position, it will be Chelsea’s second successive season finishing outside of the top four as they ended their last campaign in sixth.
The west London club face a tough task as the European commitments will surely take its toll on their exploits in the Premier League. However, shot stopper Petr Cech isn’t overly concerned and says they are still fully dedicated to the Europa League.
"We are in a position where we fight for everything," he told reporters.
"We have a lot of pressure playing in the Europa League because we obviously want to win it. Every league game we are in the fight for the top four places and it's very tight there."
Fernando Torres also views the Europa League as a chance to make up for an otherwise disappointing season.
"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 (there)," he told uefa.com.
"But the Europa League is keeping us in a good mood and thinking it could be a good season."
Chelsea missed out on a chance to go ahead of Arsenal in the league table when they drew against Liverpool in the controversial clash at Anfield last week.
Chelsea are currently trailing the Gunners by one point but they still have a game in hand. However, the extra game will be against the other top four contenders, Tottenham who are currently one point behind Chelsea.
Their remaining games won’t be easy either as they face Swansea, recently crowned champions Manchester United, Aston Villa, and Everton.
Rafa Benitez and his Chelsea side therefore have a few telling weeks ahead and it will require strong character and perseverance if they’re to rescue their season.
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