Europa League Final: Chirpy Chelsea can rub salt in

14May 2013

Europa Liga

 

After a week to forget for Benfica, it's advantage Chelsea in Wednesday's Europa League final, writes Christian Crowther...

 

This year's Europa League final will be contested by two Champions' League group stage drop-outs, though they are certainly names worthy of any competition decider.

 

As the reigning champions of Europe, Chelsea are understandably favourites to claim the trophy inside 90 minutes at 2.54, while Benfica are 3.15 to win the match.

 

Furthermore, a closer look at the respective club's preparations for this showpiece suggest that Chelsea's chances are even more favourable than their current price implies.

 

After several months of contending with hostile home support, Rafa Benitez has got this talented Chelsea squad playing some of their best football of the season. This timely upturn in performance levels has witnessed Rafa's best run of results since taking charge.

 

The Blues are unbeaten in eight, enjoying five wins in their last six games across all competitions; culminating in a certain top-four finish following victory over Aston Villa on Saturday lunchtime.

 

Thanks in no small part to Frank Lampard's record-breaking double, Chelsea's players can now approach this final on a real high and free from the shackles of doubt over their Premier League finish.

 

In stark contrast to the Londoners meanwhile, opponents Benfica have just endured the week from hell.

 

Unbeaten in the Portuguese top-flight going into last Monday's home match with Estoril, a win would have practically guaranteed them the title ahead of fellow unbeaten side Porto by ensuring that they went into the weekend's title decider four points clear with one other game to play.

 

However, a hugely frustrating draw in that game - their first dropped points since February 10 after nine straight wins - left them two points clear before visiting Porto, though even a draw would have maintained their advantage.

 

Unfortunately for coach Jorge Jesus, who sunk to his knees in reaction to the late drama, his side let Porto in to score an injury-time winner and lose 2-1, meaning the title has all but been surrendered to their rivals ahead of this cup final.

 

Such a bitter blow in the days leading up to this date in Amsterdam can only have a detrimental effect on a Benfica squad which had become so used to winning.

 

Chelsea's top scorer in the competition, Fernando Torres, is 3.25 to score at any time in the Netherlands.

 

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Keywords: Europa League, Final, Chelsea, Benfica

Source: Betfair

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