Nearly a year after winning the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League title, English football powerhouse Chelsea will aim to secure a berth in the 2012-13 UEFA Europa League final on Thursday as the Blues play host to FC Basel at Stamford Bridge.
Rafael Benitez's squad earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory in Switzerland in the first leg a week ago, giving them a mighty advantage coming into Thursday's semifinal tilt.
However, there is no time for Chelsea to rest as Basel is capable of pulling off a comeback on the road. After all, Murat Yakin's club has netted a combined five goals in its previous three Europa League matches.
Now we will get you set for Thursday's colossal UEFA Europa League showdown at Stamford Bridge.
Where: Stamford Bridge, England
When: Thursday, May 2 at 3:05 p.m. ET
Watch: FOX Soccer
Live Stream: FOXSoccer2Go
Impact Players to Watch
David Luiz, Chelsea
Luiz's clutch score off a free kick in stoppage time last week made all the difference for Chelsea, putting it a goal up on aggregate and giving the Blues two huge away goals to take into Thursday's pivotal second leg.
But the star defender must show up again on Thursday if Chelsea is going to eliminate Basel and advance to the final. Luiz will be vital at the back as Yakin's squad will surely be firing plenty of balls on goal in an effort to overcome the deficit.
The key for Luiz will be to remain focused throughout, staying in position and fighting the urge to constantly advance down the pitch.
He can drift in and out of matches at times, and Chelsea fans know that he can ill afford to have a mental lapse against a squad as desperate and threatening as Basel.
Marco Streller, Basel
Basel forward Marco Streller must step up and deliver for Yakin's side on Thursday, otherwise the Swiss club can forget about the UEFA Europa League final.
Streller has scored four goals for Basel in Europa League play this season, but failed to get on the board in last week's home loss to Chelsea. The 31-year-old veteran managed to get just one shot off and was offsides on two occasions.
If given the opportunity, Streller must look to be aggressive from the opening kickoff. As Real Madrid showed on Tuesday, early missed chances often come back to haunt you.
Juan Mata, Chelsea
Whether Juan Mata starts or comes on late as a substitute for Rafa Benitez, he'll be a key player to watch for Chelsea.
Mata's ability to control the ball and create for the Blues make him a huge attacking threat. If he comes on towards the end of the match like he did in the first leg in Switzerland, his fresh legs give him a big advantage.
Chelsea doesn't need Mata to create a ton of offense on Thursday in order to advance to the final in Amsterdam. All they need is for the Spaniard to apply pressure on the other end of the pitch, limiting Basel's opportunities.
However, keep in mind that Mata is one of only four Chelsea players with two assists in Europa League play this season.
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