Chelsea welcome Eintracht Frankfurt for the second leg of their Europa League semi-final clash on Thursday night.
Luka Jovic briefly put the English side under pressure at the Commerzbank-Arena last week, but Pedro’s strike in the last minute of the first half secured a 1-1 draw for the Blues in the first leg.
They now host Frankfurt, after sealing a Premier League top-four finish with a 3-0 win against Watford over the weekend. Chelsea will play in the Champions League next season, but the Blues would like to win their second trophy in the UEFA Europa League anyway.
Eintracht travel to London on the back of a humiliating 6-1 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen last Sunday. The Eagles are still fourth in the Bundesliga though, as two wins in the final two league games should be enough to secure a Champions League spot at the end of the season.
World Cup winner N’Golo Kante sustained a hamstring injury at the weekend, which will rule him out until the end of the season.
Callum Hudson-Odoi’s season is finished as well, while German defender Antonio Rudiger is also expected to miss the game.
Quick as a flash! ⚽️⚡️⚽️
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 8, 2019
Frankfurt travel to England without Israeli defender Taleb Tawatha, who missed the first leg as well.
Croatian forward Ante Rebic is available again having sat out the first leg through suspension, while Sebastien Haller is a major doubt for head coach Adi Hutter
What did the managers say
Maurizio Sarri says it is not going to be easy for Chelsea, as they face a dangerous team for the place in the final.
“It’s not easy because we have to play a dangerous team, as we saw in the first leg,” said Sarri via Chelsea’s official website.
“They are dynamic, aggressive and dangerous in the offensive phase, especially when they find space in counter-attacks, so it’s a dangerous match.
“In a semi-final, you always have to play against a strong team with strong players so it’s difficult to say we are favorites. They have two good strikers in [Luka] Jovic and [Ante] Rebic so we have to be careful.”
Frankfurt boss Adi Hutter believes his players won’t be affected from the thrashing they suffered in Leverkusen over the weekend.
“It’s a dark day. We played badly and the defeat is a painful one. The criticism is certainly justified. We had no mental or physical freshness and we never got into our game,” he said via the Eintracht Frankfurt official website.
— Eintracht Frankfurt (@eintracht_eng) May 8, 2019
“Leverkusen played really good football and were very variable. By way of contrast, we didn’t get into the tackles and were missing a lot of the things that have characterized us up to now this season.
“We still have fourth place in our hands, even if it’s just become more difficult. We need to win against Mainz now, that’s for sure, but I have no doubt we’ll put on a different display on Thursday. Our heads will be clear by then.”
All four of the previous teams to draw the first leg of a Europa League semi-final away from home went on to progress to the final, most recently Atletico Madrid against Arsenal last season.
Chelsea could reach their first major European final since the 2013 Europa League, when they beat Benfica 2-1 thanks to Branislav Ivanovic’s last minute winner.
Eintracht Frankfurt are looking to reach their first European final since the 1980 UEFA Cup, which they won on away goals against Borussia Moenchengladbach.
The Blues have never lost a home game against German opponents in all competitions, winning seven out of nine in the process.
Frankfurt have lost their last four away games against English sides by an aggregate score of 1-11. However, their last such game was at Spurs in 1982.
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 16 Europa League games, the longest such run in the competition since it was rebranded in 2009-10.