Preview: Benfica vs. Chelsea

Benfica's Eduardo Salvio is mobbed by teammates after his equaliser against Newcastle on April 11, 2013
© AP Photos
Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Europa League final between Benfica and Chelsea in Amsterdam.

Chelsea will attempt to secure European silverware for the second successive season when they clash with Portuguese outfit Benfica in the final of the Europa League on Wednesday.

Benfica overcame the challenge of Fenerbahce in the semi-finals, losing the first leg 1-0 in Turkey before securing a 3-1 win on their own patch to book their spot in the final of the competition.

It was more comfortable for the Premier League outfit, however, with Chelsea winning 2-1 in Switzerland against Basel before securing a 3-1 victory at home in their semi-final tie.

Despite winning 23 of their 29 matches in their domestic league this season, Benfica remarkably trail leaders Porto by one point, who were victorious when the pair clashed at the weekend. It has been an impressive season for Benfica, however, losing just five times in all competitions.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have recovered from an indifferent middle part of the season to all but secure third position in the league table and a place in the Champions League next season. However, there will be a change of manager at the club with Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho odds-on to replace Rafael Benitez at the end of the campaign.

The two sides met in the Champions League quarter-finals last season, with Chelsea winning 1-0 in Portugal before claiming a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge to book a last-four spot against Barcelona.

Benfica have no fresh injury concerns from their defeat to Porto at the weekend, but Oscar Cardozo is expected to return to the side after a late appearance from the bench. Andre Almeida is expected to shake off an injury but should he fail to recover, then Roderick will be handed a place in the team.

Nemanja Matic, a reported target for Manchester United, should also start in the middle of midfield against his former club. Meanwhile, the much-coveted Nicolas Gaitan will join Eduardo Salvio and Lima in attack.

Chelsea could be without skipper John Terry, who limped out of their 2-1 win over Aston Villa at the weekend. However, the former England defender was not expected to start, with Gary Cahill and former Benfica defender David Luiz forming a pair at the heart of the defence.

Victor Moses is also pushing for a start having enjoyed a successful season in Europe, but the former Wigan Athletic winger is expected to be named on the bench with Brazilian Oscar coming into the team to form a three-pronged attack with Juan Mata and Eden Hazard.

Recent form:

Benfica: LWWDL

Chelsea: WWWDW

Possible lineups:

Benfica: Artur; Pereira, Luisao, Garay, Almeida; Matic, Perez; Gaitan, Lima, Salvio; Cardozo

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Cahill, Cole; Ramires, Lampard; Mata, Oscar, Hazard; Torres

Sports Mole says: 2-2 (Chelsea to win on penalties)

Eric Lichaj
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