Chelsea will welcome FC Basel to Stamford Bridge this week for the second leg of their UEFA Europa League semifinal after chalking up a 2-1 victory in the first leg.
Courtesy of a late free-kick goal by David Luiz, the Blues were able to take a huge advantage away from St. Jakob-Park. Not only do they now possess an aggregate lead, but their two away goals could prove crucial here, as Basel now need to score twice to progress.
Having said that, the home side are more than capable of triumphing here and have proved throughout the tournament to be a very tough side to break down.
They'll be looking for an early goal here to assert some pressure on the West London club—something they haven't dealt with well in 2013.
Who will emerge triumphant from this one and see their way through to the final at the Amsterdam Arena? Read on for a full preview of this match including all the key details, live viewing information, analysis, predictions and a whole lot more!
Date: Thursday May 2, 2013
Start time: 3:05 p.m. ET (8:05 p.m. British time)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London, England
Live Stream and TV Information
According to Live Soccer TV, SiriusXM FC, ESPN Deportes and Fox Soccer Channel will provide coverage of this game throughout the United States.
ITV Streaming, ITV 1, BBC Radio 5 Live, UTV will do the same in the U.K.
A live stream of this game can be found through FoxSoccer 2Go.
2012-13 European Season so Far
|Draw, 2-2 vs. Juventus (H)*||Draw, 0-0 vs. Sporting Portugal (A)|
|Won, 4-0 vs. Nordsjaelland (A)*||Draw, 2-2 vs. Genk (H)|
|Loss, 2-1 vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (A)*||Loss, 2-1 vs. Videoton (A)|
|Won, 3-2 vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (H)*||Won, 1-0 vs. Videoton (H)|
|Loss, 3-0 vs. Juventus (A)*||Won, 3-0 vs. Sporting Portugal (H)|
|Won, 6-1 vs. Nordsjaelland (H)*||Draw, 0-0 vs. Genk (A)|
|Won, 1-0 vs. Sparta Prague (A)||Won, 2-0 vs. Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (H)|
|Draw, 1-1 vs. Sparta Prague (H)||Draw, 1-1 vs. Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (A)|
|Loss, 1-0 vs. Steaua Bucharest (A)||Won, 2-0 vs. Zenit St. Petersburg (H)|
|Won, 3-1 vs. Steaua Bucharest (H)||Loss, 1-0 vs. Zenit St. Petersburg|
|Won, 3-1 vs. Rubin Kazan (H)||Draw, 2-2 vs. Tottenham Hotspur (A)|
|Loss, 3-2 vs. Rubin Kazan (A)||Draw, 2-2 vs. Tottenham Hotspur (H)^|
|Won, 2-1 vs. FC Basel (A)||Loss, 2-1 vs. Chelsea (H)|
* denotes played in UEFA Champions League
^ denotes won on penalty-shootout
Key Player to Watch: Victor Moses, RW, Chelsea
Chelsea have a number of key Premier League fixtures forthcoming over the next week, so it will be interesting to see what squad they roll out this week.
Even if they don't opt to rest too many of their big-name players, I still think Victor Moses will get a run here for the West London club.
And as he's shown so far in the Europa League, Moses can be a real weapon for the Blues out on the right flank when they look to move the ball quickly.
The summer signing has scored in his last three Europa League games for the club and has the best minutes-per-goal rate out of any player on the team.
He might not get the attention that the likes of Demba Ba, Juan Mata and Oscar get, but the winger has proved to be a huge asset for the club in both attack and defense this season. He will be a big danger for Basel's left-hand side to deal with in this one.
Biggest Storyline to Follow: Has Fernando Torres Got His Mojo Back?
It's been a storyline that Blues fans have been wanting for years now, but Fernando Torres has seemingly finally got his groove back at the top of their attack—scoring multiple goals in the competition this season and filing his role up front.
Granted, he's been helped by the fact that Demba Ba is already cup-tied, which means that he's almost guaranteed a starting position up front. But even still, El Nino has been very impressive this year and looks to continue his success here.
He is averaging double the shots he normally does in the Premier League and has seven goals in European football this season in just 12 appearances.
The West London club will need another strong performance from him here if they're to triumph in this one, but he appears good to do just that. Particularly if he's started to get his mojo back.
Three Stats to Consider
1. Chelsea became the first team to win away from home in the first leg of a Europa League semifinal earlier this year. The six previous semifinals before that saw five home wins and a draw.
13. Chelsea have scored in every one of their last 13 games.
5. Five of the past six Europa League finalists have trailed at some point in their semifinal ties.
It seems Chelsea's chaotic schedule is going to catch up with them at some point in the season, and given the Premier League fixtures they have ahead, I wouldn't be surprised if it happens a little here.
The Blues have endured a grueling schedule and would be forgiven for taking this one a little lighter due to the fact they have an aggregate lead over Basel.
However, don't expect that to matter a great deal in this one.
Chelsea are a tough side to break down at home this year, and despite Basel already playing one good game in London this year, I can't see them doing it twice.
Rafa Benitez's side will control possession and most of the attacking chances here, and if they can snare an early goal over their opponents in this one, they'll definitely stand a great chance of booking their place in the 2013 Europa League Final.
It might not be the European final that they wanted to be in at the end of the season, but it beats not being in a final at all, and Chelsea will not slip up with that in sight.
Look for an early goal here to be the difference in this game.
Prediction: Chelsea 1, FC Basel 0
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