Tonight’s Europa League final in Amsterdam gives Chelsea a chance to crown their already strong finish to the season with a bang and a UEFA cup victory.
It would be some vindication for interim coach Rafael Benitez, deemed not good enough for Chelsea at least by its mercurial owner, yet he has taken the club to the verge of silverware in just a few months. For both manager and players it has been tough.
“We have been playing 68 games now. That means six months playing two games per week at least. So imagine any team in the world doing that. A lot of people say we have the feeling that we have done a good job and hopefully we can do even better,” said Benitez.
Benfica come to Barcelona on the back of six previous European final defeats, the last in 1990, and a crushing last-minute loss to league leaders Porto at the weekend. Yet after a successful four years at the helm coach Jorge Jesus has revived this venerable club and made it a team to be feared again. Benfica will take the game to Chelsea.
“The ideas that we have to put in practice in the match are those that we have been working on throughout the season and it is the same for Chelsea. So there are no excuses, like saying we lacked time to prepare the final,” says Jesus.
On paper Chelsea look too strong and they are the form team, but will Benfica’s hunger to end a long drought of European titles give them the edge? Find out tonight.