May 15, 2013
Michael Regan/Getty Images
When Chelsea faces Benfica on Wednesday afternoon in the Euorpa League final, the Blues will have a chance to make history by becoming the first team to win a Champions League title and Europa League title in back-to-back seasons.
Benfica won't care about the Blues' quest for history, however—the Portuguese side will be looking to win its first European title since 1962, the sting of six losses in six European finals over the past 51 years fresh in the team's memory.
With two talented and exciting teams to watch square off, this game promises to be a real cracker, and you won't want to miss a second of it. Luckily for you, I've provided all the info you need to catch every pass, shot and header on goal.
When: Wednesday, May 15, at 2:45 p.m. ET
Where: Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Watch: FOX Soccer
Streaming: FOX Soccer 2Go
Benfica is not a team to be taken lightly.
The attack is headlined by two dangerous goalscorers, Oscar Cardozo (24 goals in 37 appearances) and Lima (20 goals in 38 appearances). The team has two speedy playmakers out wide in Nicolas Gaitan and Eduardo Salvio, while midfielder Nemanja Matic is the straw that stirs Benfica's drink and could be named Portuguese Liga Player of the Year.
Add in Argentine international and centre-back Ezequiel Garay, who could very well be poached by a big-spending club in the English Premier League, La Liga or Bundesliga, and you have a roster capable of playing with anyone they face.
Benfica is extremely balanced, and the team is just as solid defensively (it has allowed just 19 goals in 29 league games this season) as it is dangerous on the attack.
But Chelsea is loaded as well, even if the team will be without several key contributors. Eden Hazard is out due to injury, Demba Ba is cup-tied, and John Terry and John Mikel Obi are questionable for the contest.
Still, manager Rafa Benitez—who has experience in games of this magnitude, seeing as he led Liverpool to two Champions League finals—has options.
He could opt to pair the electric David Luiz with Ramires in the midfield; he could play Frank Lampard up top and move Juan Mata and Oscar out wide.
He could keep Mata in a more central position and give Victor Moses the start. Or, Luiz could remain at centre-back and Lampard could drop further back defensively in the midfield. It's nice to have options.
No matter how he chooses his lineup, Benitez will put out a talented starting 11 that has experience in big games, is bursting with talent and will want to win this title after disappointing in the Champions League and failing to win a Premier League title.
Benfica is a really strong side and the Portuguese outfit is more than capable of winning this game, but Chelsea's depth and talent is simply superior, even without players like Hazard and Ba available. With experienced players like Lampard and Ashley Cole and Benitez's experience in one-off games, I like Chelsea to win.
The Blues make it two European titles in two years, winning 2-1.
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