Basel vs. Chelsea: Strong First Leg Will Push Blues into Europa League Final

Michael DulkaContributor IApril 26, 2013

BASEL, SWITZERLAND - APRIL 25:  David Luiz (R) of Chelsea celebrates scoring his sides second goal with team mate Victor Moses (L) during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final First Leg match between FC Basel 1893 and Chelsea at St. Jakob Stadium on April 25, 2013 in Basel, Switzerland.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

A strong performance in Switzerland gave Chelsea a 2-1 advantage over Basel in advance of the return leg at Stamford Bridge. With Chelsea earning a nice result in the first leg, the Blues are set to cruise into the Europa League final a year after winning the Champions League trophy. 

While a one-goal advantage will be big for the Blues, having scored two away goals will be equally important. In the biggest match of the club's history, Basel must go on the road to Stamford Bridge and knock off a Chelsea team that got good value out of a leg one victory. 

If Basel wanted to knock Chelsea out of the tournament, they needed an inspired performance in front of their home fans. 

Instead, Chelsea got an early goal as Victor Moses found the net on a swung in corner from Frank Lampard. Chelsea looked decent throughout the evening, but Basel definitely looked capable of making it a game. Basel finally broke through as they earned a very questionable penalty call late in the match and Fabian Schar converted from the spot. 

While it looked like Basel would take a tie back to London, David Luiz revealed he had other plans with an absolutely gorgeous free kick in the 94th minute. 

Getting the late winner was deserved for Chelsea following the terrible ref's decision. While they didn't put in the best performance, Chelsea was the better team in this game. 

Even in a fairly lackluster overall performance, Chelsea was playing at a different level. Despite Basel having some chances throughout, the result never seemed in question until the final moments. The individual talent level for the Blues is just unmatched among the teams left in the tournament. 

As the Luiz goal demonstrated, all it took was a moment of brilliance from a talented Chelsea player to win the match. 

Basel's only hope is that Chelsea lose focus heading into the second leg. In the midst of a heated battle to finish in the top four of the Premier League, Chelsea could get caught off guard. Chelsea have a crucial Premier League fixture against Swansea on Sunday, April 28, before the second leg on Thursday, May 2.

Even if Chelsea get off to a slow start, they have enough talent and composure to hold off Basel and get to the final. Not to mention that Petr Cech is playing as one of the best keepers in the world. He kept them in the driver's seat through the first leg and will do so in the second as well.