Preview: Basel vs. Chelsea

Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez prior to kick-off against Southampton on March 30, 2013
© PA Photos
Sports Mole previews the first leg of the Europa League semi-final between Basel and Chelsea.

Chelsea will attempt to secure a first-leg advantage when they travel to Basel in the semi-finals of the Europa League on Thursday.

The Swiss outfit have already overcome English opposition in the competition this season, having eliminated Tottenham Hotspur in the previous round.

Chelsea were defeated in the second leg of their quarter-final tie against Rubin Kazan, but a 3-1 win on their own patch was enough to book their spot in the final four of the competition.

Basel enter the match having won just one of their last five matches in all competitions, but they top their domestic table with 57 points, three clear of nearest challenges Grasshopper.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have lost two of their last five games in all competitions, but they remain in the hunt for a Champions League position, currently occupying fourth spot in the Premier League table.

The home side have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the match, although Philipp Degen is still nursing a muscular injury. Should the defender fail to prove his fitness, Arlind Ajeti could come into the side. Meanwhile, Marco Streller is expected to lead the line alongside Raul Bobadilla.

Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez could recall John Terry and Frank Lampard to his starting side, but Ashley Cole has been ruled out. Ramires could also start in place of Oscar, while Fernando Torres is expected to be named as the lone striker once more.

Recent form

Basel: DDDWD

Chelsea: WLLWD

Possible lineups

Basel: Sommer; Park, Schar, Sauro, Steinhofer; Stocker, Frei, Diaz, Degen; Streller, Bobadilla

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Bertrand; Mikel, Lampard; Ramires, Hazard, Mata; Torres

Sports Mole says: 2-2

Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas prior to kick-off against Arsenal on March 3, 2013
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