Chelsea vs FC Basel: Frank-ly, Basel don't have a hope

2May 2013

Europa Liga


Chelsea are in pole position to reach the Europa League final, and Kevin Hatchard thinks Rafa Benitez' men will qualify in style against FC Basel...


Chelsea vs FC Basel

Europa League SF 2nd Leg

Thu 20:05 BST, Live on ITV1

Match Odds: Chelsea 1.54, Basel 7.6, the draw 4.5


As readers of last week's previews will be aware, I suspected Chelsea would be able to expose the fragility of FC Basel's young defence, and so it proved. The Blues  needed a last-gasp free-kick from David Luiz to secure a 2-1 victory in Switzerland, but they should have been out of sight before then. Brilliant Belgian winger Eden  Hazard ran Basel ragged at times, and should have scored at least once. A defence including Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry coped well with the physical threat posed  by Basel frontman Marco Streller, and Luiz was an all-action presence in midfield. Basel had bright moments of their own, but they found life far tougher than they had  against Spurs in the quarter-finals, and they only scored courtesy of an extremely soft penalty award.


I suspect Basel will be in for more of the same at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have won 10 of their last 11 home games in all competitions, and in this competition they  recorded 3-1 home victories against Rubin Kazan and Steaua Bucharest. I was impressed by Chelsea's performance in Sunday's 2-0 home win against Swansea, and Frank  Lampard was a huge threat in midfield, creating a fine opener for Oscar and slamming in a penalty. Defensively, Rafa Benitez' side looks much more solid now that  players like Terry, Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill have returned from injury.


Supporters of Basel will point to the attacking threat posed by wingers Valentin Stocker and Mohamed Salah, and the havoc they caused at White Hart Lane. However, it's  worth noting that Spurs defended atrociously in that match (William Gallas, take a bow), and I just can't see Chelsea being as accommodating. Basel haven't won any of  their six Europa League away games, and the 2-2 draw at Spurs was the only road game in which they have scored more than once. Basel must do something no other side  has managed in European competition this term, and that's beat Chelsea on their own patch. Indeed, the Blues haven't lost a European game at Stamford Bridge since  Manchester United won 1-0 in April 2011. Murat Yakin's side will have to push for goals, as they need at least two to qualify, and I think Chelsea can shred them on  the counter-attack.


Chelsea will be without the suspended Ashley Cole, and Ramires is a doubt after picking up an injury against Swansea. Fernando Torres will return in attack to replace  the cup-tied Demba Ba. Benitez has indicated that Lampard will start Thursday's match, and the veteran midfielder is just one goal short of equalling the mark of 202  goals set by Chelsea's all-time leading scorer Bobby Tambling. Judging by Lampard's outstanding display against Swansea, he looks a decent shout at 2.38 in  the To Score market. If the tie is dead late on and Basel are flagging, you can expect Lampard's team-mates to find him in scoring positions as often as possible to  help him equal or break Tambling's record.


I think Basel have far too much to do to turn this tie around, and if Chelsea take an early grip of the match, the youngsters in the Swiss side could soon lose heart.  I would back Chelsea -1.5 on the Asian Handicap at 2.25, and I like the look of backing Over 3.5 Goals at 2.82, which has paid out in three of  Chelsea's last four Europa League games.


Recommended Bets

Back Chelsea -1.5 on the Asian Handicap at 2.25

Back Over 3.5 Goals at 2.82

Back Frank Lampard to score at 2.38



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Keywords: Chelsea, FC Basel, Frank, Basel, hope

Source: Betfair

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