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Europa League Preview: Benfica v Chelsea

Benfica and Chelsea go head-to-head for UEFA Europa League glory when the sides meet at the Amsterdam Arena on Wednesday.

Rafael Benitez’s men go into the final as favourites and could become the first team to win Europe’s second-tier competition having lifted the UEFA Champions League the season before.

Benfica, meanwhile, will need to recover from their demoralising last-gasp defeat to title rivals Porto on Saturday if they are to stand any chance of victory.
Jorge Jesus’ men were minutes away from sealing a 1-1 draw at the Estadio do Drago which would have maintained their two-point lead at the top of the Portuguese standings with just one game remaining.
But 19-year-old striker Kelvin’s 91st-minute goal swung the momentum in the favour of Porto and left Jesus – who dropped to his knees in anguish as the strike hit the back of the net – needing to rally his troops urgently.
His team have lost just four fixtures all season, with three of those coming in European competition, as they bid to win the UEFA Europa League for the first time in their history.
Chelsea have also never won this tournament before, but were in a similar position ahead of their historic victory over Bayern Munich last May.
The London club have no domestic commitments to worry about for the remainder of the season, after they all but sealed their place in the top four with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa last time out.
And Benitez need not start Frank Lampard as his brace against Paul Lambert’s men ensured he surpassed Bobby Tambling as the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.
The Spaniard may not get the luxury of choice with centre-back John Terry, however, after he was stretchered off against Villa with an ankle injury.
“It is my ankle. I’m going to get it scanned. I don’t know if I’ll be fit for Wednesday at the moment,” the former England captain told the Daily Mirror.
Demba Ba will be unable to feature due to his participation in the competition with Newcastle earlier in the season, but Chelsea have an otherwise fully-fit squad to choose from.
Benfica also have no new injury worries, though the scars from their defeat to Porto may be more mental than physical.
The two teams last met in the quarter-finals of last season’s UEFA Champions League, with Chelsea winning 1-0 in Portugal and 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on their way to overall victory.
Mon 13 May, 2013
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