So with the first legs of the Europa Semi finals held yesterday night, with Chelsea beating FC Basel by 2-1 and Fenerbache scraping past Benfica by a solitary goal, we present you five talking points from yesterday’s matches.
CHELSEA WILL GO THROUGH: It needed a last gasp free kick from Brazilian defender David Luiz to help the Blues secure a 2-1 away win in Switzerland. With tennis legend Roger Federer looking eagerly from the stands, Chelsea are now in pole position and in firm control with the second leg being at Stamford Bridge in a week’s time. Rafa Benitez is now two matches away from lifting a cup since being out of work for two years. With two away goals and key defenders proving their worth, Chelsea will surely travel to Amsterdam for the final unless FC Basel can pull off something spectacular in West London.
FENERBACHE OR BENFICA? : A 72nd-minute Egemen Korkmaz goal was enough to procure a 1-0 advantage ahead of the second leg in Portugal. Korkmaz headed home powerfully from a corner at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium to give Aykut Kocaman`s hosts a slim victory as they bid to reach their first ever European final. The home side had earlier hit the woodwork three times before the goal much to the dismay of the home set of fans. But Benfica know the tie is far from over as the Portuguese giants are almost unassailable at home and are more than capable of turning things around in the second leg at home. So it’s tough predicting on which side will go through.
DAVID LUIZ: Fantastic! This Brazilian is improving day by day and the decision to play him as the holding midfielder role by Rafa Benitez was a master stroke. Luiz has already made a name for himself with his superlative displays for Chelsea since his move from Benfica and he had earlier confessed saying , “Loved to be coached by Rafa Benitez”. After his dominating performance yesterday, Chelsea might opt to play the Brazilian in the central defensive midfielder position from next season. Not withstanding , his technique at hitting free kicks is absolutely fantastic.
RAFA BENITEZ: Driven by incessant boos and repeated abuses by the Chelsea faithful, Benitez had emerged from the tunnel at Stamford Bridge on a glittering November night after a two year exile. The Spaniard is widely regarded as a tactical genius and that’s showing in Chelsea’s recent performances. Yes, Rafa might have lost the Club World Championships in the final, lost in the Capital Semis to Swansea and most recently failed to beat Manchester City in the FA Cup semi final, but Brnitez might leave Chelsea in the summer with the Europa League and a top four finish. Clearly the Spaniard means business and is determined to be in work next season as well. With several managerial positions yet to open up in the summer, Rafa’s impressive CV is certain to roll on. CHELSEA : With most of the newspapers reporting, Real Madrid’s current manager Jose Mourinho is almost certain to return to the helm at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea manager. With him of course, also on his way to Stamford Bridge is Athletico Madrid’s super star Colombian striker Radamel Falcao. But the Europa League triumph might be significant if Chelsea’s season in transition is considered.