If Chelsea avoid defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany we will set a new Europa League record for longest unbeaten run in the competition’s history.
Our 4-3 victory over Slavia Prague in the second leg of our quarter-final saw us extend our run of consecutive matches without losing in this competition to 15, matching the previous best achieved by Atletico Madrid in 2011 and 2012.
That run helped Atletico win a distinctively Spanish edition of the Europa League in 2012, beating Valencia in the semis and Athletic Bilbao in the final, with three players that would also feature for the Blues later in their careers - Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis and Radamel Falcao - in their side that day.
Their undefeated run began in the 2011/12 group stage, after suffering their only loss of that season’s competition, 2-0 at Udinese, and continued for the first three matches of their attempted defence of the trophy, beating Hapoel Tel Aviv, Viktoria Plzen and Academica before losing to the last of those teams, again away from home by a 2-0 scoreline.
The last club to go close to matching that achievement was actually the opponents who are standing between us and a new record. Eintracht Frankfurt went 14 consecutive matches without losing in the Europa League, but fell at the last hurdle when they were beaten 4-2 by Benfica in the first leg of their quarter-final this season, before recovering to progress on away goals with a 2-0 home win.
Our own record-equalling run began back in the same season as Atletico Madrid’s ended, 2012/13, as it is the last time we competed in the Europa League. Of course, we ended that campaign by lifting the trophy, with our unbeaten sequence beginning in the semi-finals as we recorded back-to-back wins against Basel before defeating Benfica in the final in Amsterdam.
Five years later, we picked up where we left off in this season’s Europa League, and so far we are yet to lose a single game in the competition during 2012/13. In fact, only once have we failed to win, starting with five consecutive victories before drawing our last group game 2-2 away at Vidi, having already guaranteed we would finish top of the table.
We returned to winning ways immediately, triumphing in both legs of all our knockout ties so far, against Malmo, Dynamo Kiev and Slavia Prague, leaving us just one more game away from holding the competition’s unbeaten record outright.
A win in Frankfurt would also help us take a further step towards setting another record, as no team has ever won the Europa League without losing a single match en route to the final.