Chelsea and FC Basel Europa Ties
Chelsea have been trading as favourites to win the Europa League for a while now and took a comfortable path through their quarter final tie, as expected. As for Swiss side FC Basel, they are targeting the goal of becoming the first ever club from Switzerland to make it to the final of a major UEFA tournament. They have already knocked out on English Premier League side on the way to the semi’s and now have the chance to claim another major scalp. With superb form at home, the Swiss side will bring their threats to the table, but will start the tie as underdogs against Chelsea, who would make a clean sweep of all of UEFA major competitions should they win the modern version of the UEFA Cup.
Blues boss Rafa Benitez is the only coach out of the last four who has won a major European trophy before. He won the UEFA Cup with Valencia back in 2004 so has experience and history. Chelsea betting themselves well with a 3-1 home win over Rubin Kazan in the quarter finals and looked to be cruising at 2-1 up in the return leg in Moscow. There was some late drama though as the Russian side hit back, but Chelsea held on, always looking to just have the edge in doing enough, and took a 5-4 aggregate win. After becoming the first reigning Champions League holders to bow out of the title defence in the group stage, they dropped to the Europa League and stumbled their way a bit past Sparta Praha and then a very gutsy Steaua Bucharest.
Because of a heavy fixture schedule and striker Demba Ba being cup-tied, Chelsea have rotated their squad a lot and now have to navigate their way through a tricky first leg of the semi final out in Switzerland, where their opponents have a great run of form going. In Chelsea’s only previous meeting with a Swiss side, the Blues lost 2-1 on aggregate against FC St Gallan in the first round of the 2000/01 UEFA Cup. There will be just a slight concern for Chelsea in this one in their away form, as they have lost their last two in Europe now (against Steaua and Rubin). In the UEFA Cup itself, they have just a W2 D0 L5 away record. An away goal in the first leg would settle the Blues down tremendously.
Quietly but assuredly, the Swiss side have progressed. They have played more games than any of the other four teams have done in this year’s Europa League, after having to come through qualification. Since the start of the group stage, they have gone unbeaten in their six home matches played at St Jakob Park. Also a big concern for Chelsea is that FC Basel have averaged exactly two goals per game at home in the Europa League this season. It has been pretty impressive stuff on home turf from the Swiss side. They stunned Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in the first leg of their quarter final tie, the Premier League side being unable to deal with the pace that FC Basel played going forward. With Spurs earning a 2-2 draw back in Basel, the Swiss side had to come through a nerve-wracking penalty shoot out to make it through to the semi’s. So that set up the Chelsea clash and the chance of another major scalp. FC Basel have already shown that they are very committed and play some good football on the deck and this tie will be all about what happens in Switzerland in the first leg. If the Blues fail to get an away goal, they could be on slight shaky ground, although the Swiss side have never won in England before.
Chelsea v FC Basel Head to Head
This will be the first meeting between the two sides, but FC Basel have plenty of experience against English teams. At home they have a W3 D2 L3 record, but overall their record against English sides stands at W3 D7 L8. Chelsea’s experience against Swiss sides stands at W1 D0 L1, their win coming at Stamford Bridge.