Chelsea’s Benítez hopes to avoid more Europa League heartache
Chelsea's Rafael Benitez wants to avoid more Europa League semi-final heartache on Thursday after losing with Liverpool in 2010
Rafael Benítez admits he is keen to avoid more Europa League semi-final heartbreak when Chelsea face Basel in the second leg at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.
Benítez, who won the Uefa Cup with Valencia before taking charge of Liverpool in 2004, suffered a last-four defeat by Atletico Madrid at Anfield five years ago.
On that occasion, Diego Forlan scored an 102nd-minute aggregate winner on Merseyside to send Benítez’s men crashing out in extra time, with the Spaniard’s Reds reign coming to an end just weeks later.
Chelsea have a slender 2-1 lead from the first leg in Basel thanks to David Luiz’s late strike, and Benítez is desperate to avoid another disappointment in Europe’s second tier club competition on Thursday.
“It’s always sad when you lose. In a semi-final you are so close,” said Benítez.
“I remember we [Liverpool] had to clear the ball long but we left the ball there… It was quite painful but we will try to do a little bit better and get to the final on Thursday.”
Benítez believes the Blues deserve credit for reaching the Europa League semi-finals despite a season full of changes and controversy at Stamford Bridge.
“We have qualified for the semi-finals which is a fantastic achievement in a transitional period,” he said.
“We will try and do our best and get to the final.”
Chelsea v Basel: Pre-match facts
• Chelsea are unbeaten in 12 European fixtures at Stamford Bridge (W10 D2) since a 1-0 reverse against Manchester United in the 2010-11 Champions League quarter-finals..
• Basel have not won an away game in the Europa League this term (D4 L2).
• None of the four remaining teams have won the Uefa Cup or Europa League before, with Basel and Fenerbahçe both in a European semi-final for the first time.
• Basel are the sole reigning domestic champion still in the tournament.