England’s Chelsea may only be able to make it to the Europeans Champions League next season if they happen to win it this season. To do this, they’ll have to dispose of Benfica of Portugal at Stamford Bridge in London on Apr. 4. They’re in good position to do this achieve it since they won the first leg of their quarterfinal tie in Portugal 1-0 a week ago.
Chelsea is in fifth place in the English Premier League and needs to catch and pass either Arsenal or Tottenham, fellow London clubs, to earn a berth in the Champions League next season. However, they’re five points back of both teams and there are just seven games to go in the English season.
Chelsea has made it to the Champions League every year since Roman Abramovich, a Russian billionaire, bought the club back in 2003. However, they’ve never won the title, but did manage to make it to the final once only to lose it on penalty kicks to Manchester United. If they do manage to beat Benfica they’ll have to face either Spain’s Barcelona or AC Milan of Italy in a semi final showdown.
Chelsea beat Aston Villa on the weekend 4-2 and the best news that came out of that game for them was that 50-million pound Spanish striking flop finally scored his first goal for the club since last September. This means the 28-year-old Torres will likely start against Benfica. However, interim manager Roberto Di Matteo isn’t sure whether defender David Luiz and striker Didier Drogba will be fit enough to make the squad.
Benfica will be attempting to reach its first semi final in 22 years, but they have some injury problems to deal with as well. It looks like defenders Garay, Miguel Victor, and Jardel could all miss the match. Manager Jorge Jesus might have to use midfielder Javi Garcia as a defender while playing Nemanja Matic as a defensive midfielder. On the bright side, Pablo Aimar is set to return to the squad after sitting out Benfica’s 2-1 victory over Braga on the weekend due to suspension. Benfica sits in second spot in the Portuguese league, just one point behind FC Porto and five games remaining in the season.
If Torres plays up to par he could be the difference in the game. He set up the game winner by Salomon Kalou during the first leg and his overall play has improved over the past month. If Luiz can’t play, then look for England’s Gary Cahill to take his place. Since Di Matteo has taken over from Andre Villas-Boas Chelsea has lost just one out of eight games with six of them being wins.
Chelsea needs to convert their scoring chances if they hope to win this game because they haven’t been playing too well defensively this season. There could be a few goals scored, but Chelsea should do enough to come out of the game with a draw or win to see them advance.
The latest odds by William Hill show a Chelsea win at 4/6 with a Benfica victory at 9/2 and a 90-minute draw at 5/2.