Thu 25 Apr 2013 20:05 (Attendance: 36,000)
The Blues take our European campaign to a Swiss border city to face fresh opponents. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton set the semi-final scene…
Chelsea are about to play the 12th semi-final in 55 years of European campaigning. It's our 45th time in the last four of a major competition since 1905.
Basel have never previously reached a UEFA semi-final. Their best effort to date was making the European Cup quarter-final in 1973/74 when they were beaten 6-5 on aggregate by Celtic.
All four of this season's Europa League semi-finalists began their 2012/13 European campaigns in the Champions League. Basel began way back in mid-July against Flora of Estonia in the second qualifying round. Fenerbahçe joined at the third qualifying round stage, while Chelsea and Benfica started in the Champions League in the group stage.
In all it's our 18th semi-final in all competitions since the owner bought Chelsea.
We remain champions of Europe until the trophy is lifted by another team at Wembley on 25 May. Given that the Europa League takes place on 15 May the Blues could conceivably hold both UEFA titles at the same time for 10 days.
There is, as any study of Basel's progress to this stage shows, a long way to go before that can be considered. Murat Hakin's side are three times Swiss Super League champions and have overcome Zenit St Petersburg and Tottenham Hotspur (pictured below) en route to meeting Britain's final flag-bearers.
'One team in Europe' is more than mere crowing from the Chelsea supporters, it's also a pointer to the financial and practical advantages of making the latter stages of UEFA competitions.
England's last survivors - for the second season running - stand to benefit in a number of ways, not least the Europa League's financial rewards.
The prize money for Round of 32 is €200,000, the Round of 16 €350,000, the quarter-finals €450,000, and semi-final is €1m. Runners-up in the final stand to gain an extra €2.5m and the winners pocket €5m.
More matches played than our rivals also means a greater share of the English pool of TV money. The bonus to a club rises incrementally each round they progress. One pot (€60m last season) is split between the national associations represented, based on media revenue value (of which England is highest), then split equally between clubs from that country and matches played. A further stash (€30m last year) is allocated on a round by round basis.
With Spurs and Newcastle out, Chelsea's slice of the pool money increases. These are significant funds.
Equally important, extra merit points accrued in the extra matches enhances the Blues' UEFA coefficient - crucial to being top seeds in the group stage draws should we qualify for European competition next season and in the future.
Basel reached the last four by beating 10-man Tottenham on penalties after a 4-4 aggregate tie. Brad Friedel, preferred in goal to Hugo Lloris, was at fault on both Basel goals.
FCB like to consider themselves the little brother of the FCB we beat in last year's Champions League final, Bayern. Their stadium is small and atmospheric - 'English style' as they say over there.
It does not seem 13 years since we last played in Switzerland - a UEFA Cup match against St Gallen in Zurich that mostly evokes bad memories. (You can read about it via the We Have History tab.)
However, we travel in hope of a result at St Jakob-Park that is the platform for success on the Fulham Road next Thursday.
On the other side of the draw, Fenerbahçe are also semi-final novices in Europe, although they reached the last eight of the Champions League with Zico in charge five seasons ago - before losing out to Chelsea 3-2 on aggregate.
Benfica, beaten 3-1 at that same stage by the Blues last season, won the European Cup in their heyday of the early 1960s. They have reached six UEFA finals since then and lost them all.
Tonight's semi-final Europa League ties
Basel v Chelsea 8.05pm
Fenerbahçe v Benfica 8.05pm
Our penalty at Anfield was our 17th awarded this season which is a new club record, beating the previous 16 set in 1988/89.
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
Chelsea attempt to set up victory in the second leg at the Bridge with a decent result in northern Switzerland tonight. Amsterdam in May is the target.
Chelsea have lost four of our last five European away games, including against Steaua Bucharest and Rubin Kazan, so an improved performance will be required to take anything away from St Jakob-Park.
Two things are in the Blues' favour. Firstly the RotBlau will be without their second top scorer this season, the veteran Alex Frei. The attacking midfielder, who also netted 42 in 84 games for Switzerland, was a wily test for defenders.
After scoring in his final match for Basel against Zurich recently he retired from playing to become sporting director for Lucerne. Similar experience is otherwise largely lacking in a team celebrating its first European semi-final.
The second potentially promising aspect of this game is that Murat Yakin has assembled a team that likes to play on the front foot, which may work in Chelsea's favour - the Londoners generally perform better against more adventurous sides.
As part of his strategy the forward trio of Marco Streller (pictured below left), Mohamed Salah and Valentin Stocker are tasked with pressing defenders into errors. It was quite successful against the likes of Walker, Dawson, Gallas and Naughton. Basel also dispensed in similar fashion with Manchester United 3-3 and 2-1, remember, in last season's Champions League.
Streller is a tall, powerful and experienced striker but as a younger man he was unable to cut it in the Bundesliga. He was in the squad but didn't make the bench when we played Stuttgart in the 2003/04 Champions League Round of 16.
Livewire Egyptian international Mohamed Salah impressed at White Hart Lane with a series of clever runs showing close control and mercurial pace.
However his strike rate is comparatively disappointing. The 20-year-old found his shooting boots with a vital toe-poke in the second leg, but it was his first in the tournament. Chelsea's back four will have to watch his sudden bursts of pace behind them. Champions League final stars Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill both travelled to Switzerland with the rest of the squad.
Aleksandar Dragovic is a technical central defender with a poacher's instinct in the opposition box but can be a little rash and, at 22, forms part of an inexperienced partnership with 21-year-old Fabian Shär at the heart of Basel's defence.
As ever the Blues will look to the dynamism and creativity of the likes of Juan Mata, the Barclays Premier League's top assist-maker, and Eden Hazard, who has looked impossible to handle in recent matches.
Whoever plays wide right for Chelsea will need to watch left-back Joo-Ho Park, a solid defender who can also provide useful support upfront, as well as a goal threat.
Goalie Yann Sommer has often been the hero for Basel, who readily concede chances in Europe. He kept Swiss hopes viable for long periods in the face of Tottenham pressure in the quarter-final and previously saved a crucial Zenit penalty in the Round of 16.
Another sub-plot to watch out for: eight players from Chelsea and Basel's squads will be suspended for the semi-final second leg if they are booked tonight (four each from Chelsea and Basel).
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
WE HAVE HISTORY
This is our first ever competitive game against Basel. Some sources suggest an extra match against a combined Basel/Grasshoppers side was added to the schedule for a Switzerland tour at the end of the 1945/46 season, Chelsea winning the match 3-2.
Our famous striker Tommy Lawton stayed for a short coaching tour of the country, taking in Friburg, Martigny and Geneva.
A more direct comparison is with our visit to Zurich to play St Gallen in 2000 shortly after the controversial sacking of manager Gianluca Vialli.
The away leg was new boss Claudio Ranieri's second match in charge as Graham Rix had stepped up to handle the first two games, a 0-2 home defeat by Leicester preceded by the first leg against the Swiss.
That was not one of the best European nights at the Bridge. Two days after the sacking, everyone from crowd to players was on edge.
Fans loudly voiced their support for the former manager as 'Vialli! Vialli!' regularly rang out around a half-full stadium. (This would continue long into the management of Ranieri.)
Even Frank Leboeuf was initially booed, perceived to have played a role in the Italian's ousting. However his would be one of the few classy performances as Chelsea laboured to a 1-0 win through Christian Panucci's 25th-minute goal.
Ranieri was unknown to Blues fans and one of his more minor contributions to the club's history was to hand the infamously unused Winston Bogarde his debut at Old Trafford (a strange 3-3 draw) and first start in Zurich.
The trip to Switzerland would be a disastrous one for the only Chelsea player born there, Roberto Di Matteo. Half an hour into the game the Italy international emerged after a challenge by Daniel Imhof in obvious agony.
Di Matteo was stretchered off with multiple bone fractures and soft tissue damage to his leg and would never play again.
By then a subdued, tinkered-with Chelsea were a goal down and minutes later it would be two - the hapless Bogarde at fault on both occasions.
Ranieri switched things round from the starting 4-3-3 at half-time, handing Georgian forward Rati Aleksidze his debut in place of right-back Panucci.
Tore Andre Flo dropped, surprisingly, to right midfield before making way for Eidur Gudjohnsen.
Chelsea made a better fist of the second half, but Gianfranco Zola's fierce drive, Flo's close-range miss and Aleksidze's striking of the bar were the closest the Blues came to a crucial away goal.
The Swiss, watched by tennis star and St Gallen fan Martina Hingis, won 2-1 on aggregate.
Chelsea's biggest away win in Europe
Jeunesse Hautcharage 0-8 Chelsea - 15/09/1971 - UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1st round 1st leg
Basel's biggest home win in Europe
Basel 7-0 Folgore - 24/08/2000 - UEFA Cup qualifying round second leg
Visit again at lunchtime for part two of the Briefing.
The Blues are looking to become the only English club to win all three major UEFA competitions having won the Champions League last season and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1971 and 1998. Three clubs that have achieved it are Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich.
This is the 34th successive midweek that our players have either played for the club or been away on international duty. The last clear week all the players were at Cobham training was the last week of August leading up to the Super Cup against Atlético Madrid.
|Chelsea's away record against Swiss teams|
|2000/01||St Gallen||L 0-2||UEFA Cup first round second leg (agg 1-2)|
Chelsea's last ten years in Europe
2002/03 - UEFA Cup - first round
2003/04 - Champions League - semi-final
2004/05 - Champions League - semi-final
2005/06 - Champions League - round of 16
2006/07 - Champions League - semi-final
2007/08 - Champions League - runners-up
2008/09 - Champions League - semi-final
2009/10 - Champions League - round of 16
2010/11 - Champions League - quarter-final
2011/12 - Champions League - winners
|Last six results|
|Apr 4||Rubin Kazan (Europa League a)||W 3-1|
|Apr 7||Sunderland (h)||W 2-1|
|Apr 11||Rubin Kazan (Europa League a)||L 2-3|
|Apr 14||Manchester City (FA Cup Wembley)||L 1-2|
|Apr 17||Fulham (a)||W 3-0|
|Apr 21||Liverpool (a)||D 2-2|
Torres 7, Oscar 6, Mata 4, Moses 3, Cahill 2, D Luiz 2 (1 pen), Hazard 1, Ramires 1, Terry 1. Total: 27
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Sun 28 Apr||Swansea home||3pm|
|Thu 2 May||Basel (Europa League SF) home||8.05pm|
|Sun 5 May||Manchester United away||4pm|
If selected, David Luiz will play his 50th game of the season for the Blues.
15 Swiss league titles, last in 2012
11 Swiss Cups, last in 2012
1 Swiss League Cup in 1972
Basel have won 81 of their 186 UEFA competition matches
Basel are unbeaten at home in six European matches since the start of the group stage. They average two goals a game at St Jakob-Park in the Europa League this term.
Seventy per cent of their goals in the Europa League have come in the second half.
Basel are the only reigning domestic champions left in the competition. They have played more European matches this term (18) than any other surviving team.
Their record against English teams is played 18, won three, drawn seven and lost eight.
Basel have only suffered two defeats in their last 28 games in all competitions.
The capacity of Basel's St Jakob-Park Stadium is 38,512. Their biggest European crowd to date was 36,500 against Tottenham in the quarter-final.
Last Wednesday, Basel won their Swiss Cup semi-final against Sion and will play Grasshoppers in the final on 19 May.
Last ten league seasons
2002/03 - 2nd
2003/04 - 1st
2004/05 - 1st
2005/06 - 2nd
2006/07 - 2nd
2007/08 - 1st
2008/09 - 3rd
2009/10 - 1st
2010/11 - 1st
2011/12 - 1st
|Basel's home games against English teams in Europe|
|1995/96||Sheffield Wed||W 1-0||Intertoto Cup group stage|
|2001/02||Aston Villa||D 1-1||Intertoto Cup final first leg|
|2002/03||Liverpool||D 3-3||Champions League group stage|
|2002/03||Manchester Utd||L 1-3||Champions League second group stage|
|2003/04||Newcastle||L 2-3||UEFA Cup second round first leg|
|2005/06||Middlesbrough||W 2-0||UEFA Cup quarter-final first leg|
|2009/10||Fulham||L 2-3||Europa League group stage|
|2011/12||Manchester Utd||W 2-1||Champions League group stage|
|2012/13||Tottenham||D 2-2 (won 4-1 on pens aet)||Europa League quarter-final second leg|
2003/04 - UEFA Cup second round
2004/05 - UEFA Cup round of 32 having transferred from the Champions League third qualifying round
2005/06 - UEFA Cup quarter-finals having transferred from the Champions League third qualifying round
2006/07 - UEFA Cup group stage
2007/08 - UEFA Cup round of 32
2008/09 - Champions League group stage
2009/10 - Europa League group stage
2010/11 - Europa League round of 32 having transferred from the Champions League group stage
2011/12 - Champions League round of 16
|2012/13 European results|
|Champions League 2nd qual round|
|Jul 17||Flora (a)||W 2-0|
|Jul 24||Flora (h)||W 3-0|
|Champions League 3rd qual round|
|Aug 1||Molde (a)||W 1-0|
|Aug 8||Molde (h)||D 1-1|
|Champions League play-offs|
|Aug 21||CFR Cluj (h)||L 1-2|
|Aug 29||CFR Cluj (a)||L 0-1|
|Europa League Group G|
|Sep 20||Sporting Lisbon (a)||D 0-0|
|Oct 4||KRC Genk (h)||D 2-2|
|Oct 25||Videoton (a)||L 1-2|
|Nov 8||Videoton (h)||W 1-0|
|Nov 22||Sporting Lisbon (h)||W 3-0|
|Dec 6||KRC Genk (a)||D 0-0|
|Europa League round of 32|
|Feb 14||Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (h)||W 2-0|
|Feb 21||Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (a)||D 1-1|
|Round of 16|
|Mar 7||Zenit St Petersburg (h)||W 2-0|
|Mar 14||Zenit St Petersburg (a)||L 0-1|
|Apr 4||Tottenham (a)||D 2-2|
|Apr 11||Tottenham (h) (won 4-1 on pens)||D 2-2aet|
|Europa League Group G final table|
Streller 5 (1 pen), A Frei 3 (2 pens), Schär 3 (1 pen), Stocker 3, Zoua 3, D Degen 2, Diaz 2, Dragovic 1, F Frei 1, Salah 1. Total 24.
|Last six domestic results|
|Mar 17||Thun (h)||W 1-0|
|Apr 1||Luzern (a)||W 4-0|
|Apr 7||St Gallen (a)||D 1-1|
|Apr 14||Zurich (h)||W 3-1|
|Apr 17||Sion (Swiss Cup semi-final a)||W 1-0|
|Apr 21||Thun (a)||D 2-2|
|Swiss Super League top half|
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Referee Pavel Kralovec, his two assistant referees and two additional assistant referees are all from the Czech Republic.
There are no suspensions.
Demba Ba is cup-tied having already played for Newcastle in this season's competition.
Europa League bookings list
Players receive a one-match suspension for collecting three, five and seven yellow cards.
Chelsea (16): D Luiz 3 (already served a suspension), Bertrand 2, Cole 2, Mikel 2, Ramires 2, Benayoun 1, Cahill 1, Marin 1, Oscar 1, Terry 1
Basel (27): P Degen 5 (already served two suspensions for 3 and 5), Serey Die 4 (already served a suspension), Streller 4 (already served a suspension), Park Joo Ho 3 (already served a suspension), Dragovic 2, F Frei 2, Ajeti 1, Cabral 1, D Degen 1, Diaz 1, Elneny 1, Schär 1, Stocker 1
We take a lead into next week's semi-final second leg thanks to David Luiz finding the net with the last kick of the game in Switzerland.
Victor Moses had given the visitors the lead early in the game and it was an advantage we held into the final five minutes. Then Basel were awarded and scored a penalty, but the Blues deserve great credit for not settling for what would have been a healthy result at that stage. We had other chances for a late winner before the Brazilian scored our second.
The home team had looked capable of goals during the game, Chelsea even more so, and both sides hit woodwork early in the second half. It should be a cracking deciding 90 minutes back in London.
Basel named the same side that had begun their quarter-final second against Tottenham.
Urged on by a vocal support, the early pressure was from the home side, with Cech sent back-peddling as one over-hit cross landed on the roof of his net.
There were signs of nerves in the Swiss side however, playing in their first European semi-final, with misplaced passes in dangerous regions. Hazard showed signs of being able to give their defence problems, and David Luiz almost set something up for Torres after one particularly bad pass by the Basel.
On 11 minutes Chelsea sprang into life properly when a quick combination down the right by Hazard and Azpilicueta gave Lampard the chance to volley the full-back's cross at the near post. Yann Sommer in the Basel goal did well to push the ball wide for a corner. It was only a temporary reprieve.
Lampard sent the ball over into the mix where Ivanovic appeared to get the first touch. As it dropped down, Moses was able to divert it in from a yard or two out. It was his fifth European goal this season.
Now the Basel temperament was under examination and they responded to conceding that early away goal with some purpose. A free-kick save by Cech from Fabian Schar was made all the better by the fact it took a slight deflection off the Chelsea player charging it down. Terry rose high to head clear Basel's third corner of the game midway through the half.
It was down Basel's right that they looked the sharpest, and some nippy passing there inside our penalty area ended with Schar hitting the outside of the post from an acute with Cech in place and covering the net.
On the half-hour, Torres was released in a wide position. He cut back inside and shot but Basel had enough defenders back for an adequate block to be in place. Our number nine tired his luck from 25 yards out soon after but Sommer was looking sure-handed so far, having claimed a couple of corners well.
He was called upon to dive full-length to prevent Ramires making it 2-0 on 35 minutes. Moses had shown Basel a clean pair of heels down the left but his pull-back was slightly miss-directed. Lampard kept the attack alive with a pass to the Brazilian whose poke at goal needed a good save.
In the two minutes before the break the lead could, and probably should, have been doubled.
Torres was sent racing away just inside the Basel half and although he initially overran the ball, that lost his chaser and allowed him to pass wide. Torres then attempted to acrobatically convert the cross but didn't make proper contact. Hazard instead blazed over.
Moments later it was Hazard again with the chance, this time created by Moses, but with only the keeper to beat, he shot well wide.
Two minutes into the half Basel hit the post and this time Cech had been bypassed. Stocker, the Swiss side's wide-left player, made a darting run into the area and although initially held up by David Luiz, he was able to continue his run. His low shot had enough power to beat the Chelsea keeper, but thankfully lacked the direction - just!
Six minutes later it was our turn to rattle the woodwork. Hazard somehow stayed upright after being clattered on the run just outside the penalty area, and excelled in making the byline and picking out a team-mate, but from 10 yards out, Torres smashed a first-time strike against the post.
Basel could have made the Blues pay when Cech couldn't reach a high-flighted corner but their hefty centre-forward Marco Streller couldn't capitalise at the far post. Fabian Frei was not very far away with a long-range shot soon after. The Blues could not relax in this tie.
On 68 minutes Cole picked up the game's first booking for taking too long with a throw-in and it was a significant card. It rules the returning left-back out of the second leg. Basel centre-back Aleksandar Dragovic was also booked a minute later, much to the home fans' annoyance and he too will be suspended at the Bridge.
Basel were wasteful with quarter-of-an-hour to go. Schar played a ball behind Cole who couldn't catch Mohamed Salah but the winger took a strong touch and Cech was able to win the race for the ball.
Two more players were shown yellow soon after - neither facing a ban. They were substitute David Degen and David Luiz. With the ball back in play, Cole was sharp and well-positioned to keep Basel at bay when we looked vulnerable.
The Swiss side were turning the screw and kept the ball fizzing around our area. They were rewarded on 86 minutes when a nudge by Azpilicueta on Stocker was judged enough for a penalty, converted by Schar. It was 1-1.
The final minutes saw Chelsea attack strongly. Torres couldn't get a shot in from close range and then Oscar fired just wide. David Luiz swung a free-kick only a yard wide and then Terry had a header inside the six-yard box saved..
There was still time for one more free-kick and after the sickening feeling of Suarez's equaliser at Anfield just four days ago, it was a sweet moment when David Luiz's low strike found its way past the wall and past the previously impressive Sommer, who will not be pleased with his attempt to keep it out.
The St Jakob-Park stadium, which moments earlier had been rocking, fell very quiet apart from one corner containing the travelling support.
Tickets for the second leg in a week's time are currently on sale to season ticket holders and members, maximum three per person.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry (c), Cole; Lampard (Oscar 79), David Luiz; Ramires, Hazard (Mata 70), Moses; Torres.
Unused subs Turnbull, Cahill, Bertrand, Mikel, Benayoun.
Scorers Moses 12, David Luiz 90+4
Booked Cole 68, David Luiz 83, Azpilicueta 87
Basel (4-3-3): Sommer; P Degen, Schär, Dragovic, Park Joo Ho; Elneny (Zoua 65), F Frei, Serey Die (Diaz 61); Salah (D Degen 78), Streller (c), Stocker
Unused subs: Vailati, Sauro, Cabral, Steinhofer.
Scorer Schar 87 pen.
Booked Dragovic 70, D Degen 80, Schar 89.
Referee Pavel Kralovec from Czech Republic.