Published on April 25th, 2013 | by Sportingly Better Tipster0
Europa League Predictions – 25 April
Europa League favourites Chelsea come up against surprise package Basel on Thursday, with Fenerbahce and Benfica making up the other semi final.
Europa League Predictions
Basel (3.00) v Chelsea (2.40); Draw (3.30)
Basel’s penalty shoot-out victory against Tottenham in the quarter finals, set up a last-four clash with Chelsea in the Europa League and the Swiss side will be hoping to make home advantage count on Thursday.
Basel are unbeaten at St Jakob Park in the Europa League this season, winning four out of their six games played at home and Murat Yakin’s side will be hoping to claim another positive result, after knocking out both Dnipro and Zenit St Petersburg in the previous rounds.
Defender Philipp Degen could miss out, meaning Arlind Ajeti could be drafted in at full back, but it is the central defensive partnership of Aleksandar Dragovic and Fabian Schar, which has been so telling for Basel this season.
Basel have scored two or more goals in five of their last six matches at home in the Europa League and the likes of Marco Streller and Valentin Stocker will be key if the Swiss side are to maintain that goalscoring run.
Opponents Chelsea have lost their last two away games in the Europa League and the Blues will once again be banking on their result at Stamford Bridge to take them into the final.
Chelsea eliminated Steaua Bucharest and Rubin Kazan in the previous rounds (despite losing both away legs), but Roman Abramovich’s demand of finishing in the Champions League places could affect Rafa Benitez’s team selection on Thursday.
Fernando Torres will spearhead the attack, but it is Chelsea’s defence that has been questionable of late with the Blues having failed to keep a clean sheet in five of their last six matches in the Europa League.
Both sides have struggled at the back in recent weeks and despite the occasion, both teams should find the net at St Jakob Park tonight.
Both Teams to Score (Basel v Chelsea) @1.80
Fenerbahce (3.00) v Benfica (2.40); Draw (3.30)
Semi-finalists Fenerbahce have made the last four for the first time in any major European competition and San Kanaryalar will be hoping to go even further, despite drawing Benfica in the semi-finals.
Fenerbahce’s defensive unit has been central to their success, with a total of seven clean sheets recorded so far in this season’s competition.
The holding play of Mehmet Topal in front of the back four has been particularly important, with former Chelsea man Raul Meireles sitting in alongside the Turkey international in midfield.
Fenerbahce have lost only one of their last 12 matches in the Europa League and Aykut Kocaman’s side have remained difficult to beat all season, recording just three losses in all competitions since the turn of the year.
Visitors Benfica are undefeated in their last 29 games in all competitions and the Aguias will be looking to extend that run at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium on Thursday.
Captain Luisao has not travelled to Turkey, so fellow Brazilian defender Jardel could be drafted in. Nemanja Matic has had an important role in front of the back four this season and his defensive cover will again be crucial if Benfica are to keep Fenerbahce at bay.
Benfica sit four points clear of Porto at the top of the Liga Sagres and a Taca de Portugal final against Guimaraes in a months time leaves Jorge Jesus’ side on for the treble.
Both sides look set to adopt a cautious approach going into tonight’s match and a low-scoring game looks likely, with neither side willing to surrender an advantage.
Under 2.5 goals (Fenerbahce v Benfica) @1.75