Benfica v Chelsea – Europa League Final
The Key Battles:
David Luiz v Oscar Cardozo:
Cardozo is the reason why I would prefer to see Luiz in the back four rather than the midfield for tonight’s game as the Paraguayan forward is capable of causing us an absolute nightmare. He’s scored 24 goals this season and standing at 6’4 he’s going to give defenders a problem in the air. Luiz is our best defender at the moment, so he should be given the task of trying to play Cardozo out of the game.
Ramires v Nicolas Gaitan:
Gaitan, along with Cardozo, is capable of giving defences the run-around and did so when we met Benfica in the Champions League quarter-finals last season. I think Ramires will most likely play on the right or next to Frank Lampard in midfield, either way he will have to help Cesar Azpilicueta nullify the Argentinian’s threat. Ramires has the pace to cause Benfica worries on both sides of the ball with his pace and engine, and could be a key player tonight.
Juan Mata v Nemanja Matic:
With Eden Hazard out Spanish playmaker Mata is undoubtedly Chelsea’s most potent weapon and the man that will worry the opposition most. Former Blue Matic has improved immensely since becoming a regular in the Lisbon side and he will likely be asked to try put the shackles on Mata, but he will have his work cut out for him against one of the Premier League’s top performers this season.
Fernando Torres v Ezequiel Garay:
Torres already has five goals in this seasons Europa League on top of the three he scored in UEFA’s premier club cup the Champions League but he always has something to prove, especially as he didn’t feel as though he was much of a part as the Blues became champions of Europe last season. Former Real Madrid man Garay is probably Benfica’s best defender and will be the man to keep an eye on the forward’s movement.
Rafael Benitez v Jorge Jesus:
Benitez has a lot more to contend with in terms of team selection and tactics as several players are unavailable to him, most notably Eden Hazard, whereas Jesus is only missing the suspended Maxi Pereira. However, Jesus will have to pick up his side after the succumbed to their first defeat of the season against Porto, who claimed top spot in the league at Benfica’s expense with just one more game remaining. It is a result that will hurt them and Chelsea could capitalise on this.