Frank Lampard is set to lead Chelsea out as captain for tonight’s all important Europa League final in Amsterdam. The veteran midfielder, who is believed to be on the brink of signing a new one year contract extension, will be the focal point of Chelsea’s midfield spine against an always dangerous Benfica side. The match will be the 68th of Chelsea’s season – far more than they would have anticipated or indeed liked. However, at this stage of the season, the weary legs and bones will be forgotten about. If you can’t get yourself motivated for a European Cup final, then you’re in the wrong sport!
Chelsea are hot 7/5 favourites in the betting with Unibet but unfortunately, they will be missing some key players. Despite travelling with the squad, Eden Hazard will miss out with a hamstring injury picked up on Saturday. Talisman John Terry will also be absent – although Terry did try and join in training yesterday, the pain was clearly too much and the centre back has no chance of making the team. Demba Ba, who is cup tied from his exploits with Newcastle earlier this season, was included in Rafa Benitez’s 25 man squad that travelled to Amsterdam. Showing a slightly sentimental side, Benitez’s gesture will go some way to endearing himself to the travelling support.
Opinions vary on the expected line up, and much depends on Victor Moses. Moses picked up a slight knock at the weekend, but his great form in this competition to date has ensured that he will be given every opportunity to start the game. Personally, I predict that we will line up as follows:
Mata Oscar Moses
Cole Luiz Ivanovic Azpilicueta
Although Luiz has been used in central midfield recently, his excellent form combined with Lampard’s presence would suggest that he will be favoured to Gary Cahill. Of course, Rafa hates to be predictable so don’t be surprised to see Luiz in midfield with Ramires wide right. Truthfully, we don’t have a huge squad from which to choose, and Benfica will surely be quite confident of our game plan. That’s fine – let them be. The important thing is that we play to our full capability, because if we do, we win. It’s that simple.
Thanks for the memories Rafa – it’s time to sign off in style. My prediction 3-1 to the Mighty Blues!!