The Europa League is down to its last four and Basel, Benfica, Chelsea and Fenerbahce will find out which team stands between them and a place in the final in Amsterdam on May 15 when the semifinal draw is made in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday.
Chelsea are looking to claim a European trophy for the second consecutive season, having won the Champions League for the first time in their history last year. While they will not have anticipated or desired to be in the Europa League at the start of the season, manager Rafael Benitez is keen to lead his side to the trophy before the interim manager leaves the club in the summer.
Benitez is looking to claim the prize for the second time, having previously won it with Valencia, while Chelsea can complete the set of European silverware having also previously won the now defunct Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971 and 1998.
The Blues were made to work hard in Russia against Rubin Kazan before eventually coming through their quarterfinal tie 5-4 on aggregate.
But that struggle was nothing compared to the battle that Basel had to go through to reach the last four. After matching the 2-2 scoreline against Tottenham from the first leg in the return match in Switzerland, extra time still couldn’t settle the sides and it required a penalty shootout for Basel to claim a place in the semifinals of a European competition for their first time.
There is another first time European semifinalist in the shape of Fenerbahce. The Turkish side’s progress was relatively serene as a 1-1 draw in Rome gave them a 3-1 victory on aggregate triumph against Serie A side Lazio.
The remaining member of the quartet, Benfica, have plenty of recent European pedigree having reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League last season before being ousted by Chelsea. They also reached the semifinals of the Europa League as recently as 2011.
Where to watch: The draw for the UEFA Europa League semifinals will take place following the draw for the Champions League, which is scheduled for 6 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel. A love stream will be available on UEFA.com.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.