Picking a Chelsea XI to Face Benfica in the Europa League Final

Rowanne WesthenryFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2013

Chelsea face Benfica in Amsterdam on Wednesday May 15 in their 68th game of the season. This is the reigning Kings of Europe's last chance at silverware in a season that began with seven trophies to win. It is also Rafa Benitez's penultimate game as interim manager, and having achieved his primary goal of qualification for the 2013-14 Champions League, he will be looking to add a trophy to his CV.

Rafa's team selection was both helped and hindered in the weekend's fixture against Aston Villa. Frank Lampard made history by becoming Chelsea's record goalscorer, tallying two goals that won the match. Having captained the side in Munich last year, it would be foolish to leave him off the team sheet, especially considering that the Blues have failed to win any of the seven games that neither he nor John Terry have started.

Terry left the Villa Park pitch on a stretcher following a clash with Nathan Baker, and at the time of this writing, there is no word as to whether he will be available for selection. He has played through injury before, having missed last year's Champions League Final through suspension, and it is certain that he will be doing everything he can to make himself available.

Judging by the way he has rotated Terry out of the side since taking charge, Rafa is likely to be relieved if the decision on his inclusion is out of his hands. However, he will certainly have to revise his plans if Eden Hazard's hamstring problem can't be shaken off.

Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar would be the first names on the team sheet, with Ramires likely to partner Lampard in the holding role. If Hazard is unavailable, Victor Moses will most likely be recalled to repeat his European efforts from Chelsea's unsuccessful Champions League campaign.

Fernando Torres is the only available striker, and with Gary Cahill still returning from injury, Branislav Ivanovic is the most likely partner for David Luiz at centre-half.

Whatever selection Benitez makes will end up determining how his tumultuous tenure at the club is assessed, and he will hopefully be looking to end what has been a very difficult season on a positive note.