The Europa League semifinals are now set. Fenerbahce are set to battle Benfica in one semifinal while Basel and Chelsea face off in the other. Just like in the previous knockout stages, both matchups will consist of a home-and-home series.
Although the competition isn't on the same level as the Champions League, which is where Chelsea and Benfica started their European journeys, it would still represent a major title. So fans can expect clubs at full strength in the last four.
Let's take a closer look at each of the semifinals. The first leg of the round will take place on April 25 and the second leg will occur on May 2. When the dust settles, there will be two clubs left standing to play for the title.
Fenerbahce vs. Benfica
Fenerbahce reached the semifinals with a 3-1 aggregate victory over Lazio. The club features a pair of well-known veteran leaders in Dirk Kuyt and Raul Meireles. They have brought a lot of stability to the squad throughout the event.
They will oppose a Benfica side that made easy work of Newcastle United in the quarterfinals. The striker duo of Oscar Cardozo and Lima are going to be a matchup problem for Fenerbahce, which should make the Benfiquistas the favorites.
Ultimately it comes down to Benfica's star power against Fenerbahce's steady play. A draw in the first leg would provide a boost of confidence for the Turkish side and give them a realistic shot of pulling off the upset. But Benfica holds the edge.
Basel vs. Chelsea
It's a surprise to see Basel in the semifinals. Tottenham were expected to emerge from that quarterfinal, but the Swiss club stuck with them every step of the way and eventually advanced after a shootout. They hope to carry that momentum into another matchup with a Premier League club.
Chelsea are hoping to salvage at least one title from an otherwise rocky campaign. The Blues won the Champions League last season, but were knocked off after the group stage. Give credit to Frank Lampard and company for regrouping and getting into Europa title contention.
Since Chelsea are carrying the Premier League flag in European competition following the elimination of Tottenham and Newcastle, the pressure is on for them to grab the title. They can't afford to look past a well-rounded Basel side that didn't back down against Spurs, though.
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