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European Football Ezequiel Garay - Benfica

Published on May 1st, 2013 | by Sportingly Better Tipster

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Europa League Semi-Final Predictions – 2 May

Europa League favourites Chelsea look to defend a 2-1 lead from the first leg, whilst Portuguese side Benfica attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit at the Estadio da Luz.

Sportingly Better picks out the best Europa League predictions from both semi-finals on Thursday.

Europa League Predictions

Chelsea (1.53) v Basel (7.50); Draw (4.20)

David Luiz’s late free-kick at St-Jakob Park left the Blues firmly in the driving seat, as Chelsea bid to become the first side to win the Champions League and the Europa League in successive years.

Chelsea’s form at Stamford Bridge in this competition has often cemented the club’s progression into the next round and the Blues go into the match having won their last two games at home by a two goal margin in the Europa League.

A somewhat rejuvenated Fernando Torres will once again lead the line for Chelsea, with Demba Ba ineligible, but Ryan Bertrand will replace the suspended Ashley Cole at left back, who was booked for time wasting at the end of last week’s match.

Chelsea have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last seven matches in the Europa League this season and defensively the Blues could give the visitors a number of chances to get back into the tie.

Opponents Basel will be looking to go on the front foot going into the match, but despite the Swiss side’s endearing positivity, Basel have only once managed to score two goals away from home in the Europa League this season.

Marco Streller will be FCB’s main goal threat, but midfielder Valentin Stocker could cause problems for Chelsea when cutting in from the left.

Basel have not won away from home in the Europa League this season and Murat Yakin’s side will be hard pressed to overturn that record at Stamford Bridge and qualify for the final.

Chelsea have scored at least two goals in each of their last four matches in the Europa League and the current European Champions look set to outscore their opponents on Thursday.

Recommended Bets
Chelsea to win @1.53
Over 2.5 goals (Chelsea v Basel) @1.78

Benfica (1.44) v Fenerbahce (9.00); Draw (4.50)

Egemen Korkmaz’s second half header gave Fenerbahce a deserved lead going into the second leg, but the Turkish side may yet rue Cristian’s first half penalty miss.

San Kanaryalar will be without first choice holding midfielders Raul Meireles and Mehmet Topal going into Thursday’s match and Fenerbahce’s record of five clean sheets in their last seven Europa League matches may be severely tested, with Benfica pressing for victory.

Striker Pierre Webo picked up a late booking at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium last week, so Moussa Sow will move forward into the striking berth with Caner Yakin expected to replace the Senegalese forward on the left of midfield.

Fenerbahce have lost only one of their last 13 matches in the Europa League, but Thursday’s trip to the Estadio da Luz promises to be their greatest challenge in the competition to date.

Hosts Benfica suffered their first defeat in 30 matches at the hands of Fenerbahce last week and the Aguias will be looking to bounce back with a victory that could take them into the Europa League final.

Enzo Perez and Andre Almeida are both back available from suspension and should return to the starting line-up, whilst Argentinean winger Nicolas Gaitan could replace the suspended Ola John in midfield.

Benfica have won all three of their matches at home in the Europa League this season and the attacking arsenal of Lima, Eduardo Salvio, Rodrigo and Oscar Cardozo could prove crucial going into the final stages of the match.

Fenerbahce know they must avoid defeat to make the final, but Benfica’s cultured display and attacking intent could see the Aguias end Fenerbahce’s European dream on Thursday.

Recommended Bets
Benfica to qualify @ 2.00

Author Credit: Jonathan Day
Image Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AEzequiel_Garay_on_Benfica.jpg

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