The chance to extend the season and challenge for silverware is there this evening when we welcome German opposition to Stamford Bridge. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton set the semi-final second leg scene…
Last Thursday Chelsea set a new Europa League record of 16 consecutive matches without defeat and, with domestic issues all but settled on Sunday, the focus can shift to beating Eintracht Frankfurt in the pursuit of UEFA’s heftiest trophy.
In contrast, the Eagles wing in to London with their feathers ruffled. They have lost three of their past seven games in all competitions, winning one, and with two big Bundesliga games remaining their Champions League qualification is suddenly in doubt.
They were thrashed 6-1 at Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday – their heaviest defeat of the season and first experience of shipping six league goals before the break. Never before had seven goals been scored in the opening 45 minutes of a German league game.
It was ‘a dark day,’ noted coach Adi Hutter. ‘We had no mental or physical freshness. I have no doubt we’ll put on a different display on Thursday. Our heads will be clear by then.’
With the Europa League’s leading scorers (the Blues with 31 goals, Eagles 29) it could be one of those nights under the lights at the Bridge. Events at Anfield and Ajax, not to mention the second half of the Slavia match at the Bridge, should act as cautionary tales against any complacency. It is Baku or bust now, and all of us, not least those of us in the stands, have a part to play.
Chelsea have never lost to German opposition at Stamford Bridge.
— Key stat
Could Pedro’s away goal in Frankfurt help swing the tie for Chelsea? The Blues have previously drawn 1-1 in five first-leg games away from home in UEFA knockout ties and won four of them. The exception was Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-2 draw at the Bridge in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League Round of 16.
Eintracht Frankfurt’s 1-0 win away to Inter this season is the only time in four attempts the Hessians have progressed after drawing a home first leg in a UEFA tie. The only 1-1 among those was followed by a 3-0 loss at Juventus in 1994/95.
Last Thursday was the second occasion Chelsea have secured a score draw in a European semi-final first leg away from home. The previous was the meeting with Liverpool in 2008, when we finished the job 3-2 at the Bridge to reach the Champions League final for the first time.
Chelsea and Frankfurt have played a combined 26 games in the Europa league this season with only one defeat between the two (Eintracht’s 4-2 quarter-final loss to Benfica).
Europa League goals
Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) 10
Luka Jovic (Frankfurt) 9
Wissam Ben Yedder (Sevilla*) 8
Munas Dabbur (Salzburg*) 8
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) 5
Fredrik Gulbrandsen (Salzburg*) 5
Sebastien Haller (Frankfurt) 5
Giovani Lo Celso (Real Betis*) 5
*No longer in competition
Europa League assists
Willian (Chelsea) 7
Andreas Ulmer (Salzburg*) 5
Mijat Gaćinović (Frankfurt) 5
Viktor Tsygankov (Dynamo Kiev*) 4
Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) 4
Pedro Rodriguez (Chelsea) 4
*No longer in competition
Only if the score after 90 minutes is 1-1 would extra-time be played this evening, followed by a penalty shoot-out if necessary. The away-goals rule applies so any other scoreline will result in the game ending after normal time.
The Blues have taken part in four penalty shoot-outs in European competitions, winning in the 2011/12 final in Munich and losing the other three. Eintracht Frankfurt have faced just the one penalty shoot-out in European competition, losing in a 1993/94 UEFA Cup quarter-final to Salzburg.
Should Chelsea reach the final, the foe will be a familiar one, and history would be on the west London club’s side. The Champions League quarter-final tie with Arsenal in 2004 was memorably won by Wayne Bridge’s goal at Highbury and meant Claudio Ranieri’s men became the capital’s first participants in a Champions League semi-final.
Another last-eight victory in 2007, courtesy Michael Essien’s sensational late goal, made the Blues the first English team to win at Valencia’s Mestalla for 40 years.
A remarkable set of weekend results secured Champions League football for Stamford Bridge for the 16th season, and with it a return to the rhythm of Tuesday/Wednesday nights next season. Chelsea’s 3-0 victory over Watford was actually the first home success to follow a Thursday game since Fulham were beaten 2-0 in December.
There are financial bonuses for qualifying for Europe’s elite competition through a league place, including earning a share of the UEFA’s media pool money – which Europa League winners alone do not.
There are also big incentives to go all the way in this competition, though. Chelsea were not involved in UEFA competitions in 2016/17 and the club coefficient that sets the rankings could do with more wins to aid its recovery.
The recent introduction of UEFA coefficient pot means the better the recent history of a club in Europe, the bigger the slice of revenue they take from it. Since 2018 the holders of the Champions League and Europa League have also automatically been placed in Pot 1 alongside the champions from UEFA’s top-six-ranked national associations for the group stage draw.
Finally, this evening is the last time we will hear the dulcet tones of Carl Chapman, for 30 years the DJ and announcer at Stamford Bridge.
Carl, who sat in the old West Stand from the age of 11, was the man behind the playing of Russian folk song ‘Kalinka’ to mark Roman Abramovich becoming owner of the club and the advent of Madness’s ‘One Step Beyond’ as celebration music after a noteworthy victory.
‘I’ve seen Chelsea win everything and announced it all,’ he says with pride. Having hung up his microphone, he aims to attend games as a supporter. Thank you and good luck, Carl.
THE BEST THAT CAN HAPPEN THIS EVENING…
Semi-final second leg fixtures
Chelsea v Eintracht Frankfurt 8pm (agg 1-1)
Valencia v Arsenal 8pm (agg 1-3)
For the teams that make it through, the Europa League final will take place at the Olympic Stadium, Baku, on Wednesday 29 May.