A revitalised Fernando Torres is
expected to lead Chelsea's attack on Wednesday when they try to
sweep Benfica aside to claim their sixth Champions League
semi-final appearance in nine years.
Torres, 28, who scored his first Premier League goal since
September in Saturday's 4-2 triumph at Aston Villa, has netted
three times in the last four starts and is set to continue at
the expense of the injured Didier Drogba.
The Spain striker's renewed sharpness has helped boost
Chelsea's team spirit in recent weeks as he has provided a
series of key assists including one for Salomon Kalou in the 1-0
quarter-final first leg victory at Benfica last week.
"Strikers feed off goals but apart from that Fernando's been
playing very well, even without the goals, by assisting on other
goals," interim manager Roberto Di Matteo told reporters.
"He works so hard for the team. He's enjoying himself. He's
enjoying playing. He's got a smile on his face and he's
Ivorian Drogba, 34, who picked up a toe injury in training
on Friday, is fighting to prove his fitness for Wednesday's
game, as is Brazil centre half David Luiz.
Former Benfica player Luiz limped off at Villa Park with an
ankle ligament injury and is likely to be replaced by England
international Gary Cahill.
Chelsea have lost just once in eight matches since Italian
Di Matteo replaced the sacked Andre Villas-Boas last month.
The Londoners have won six of those games to rekindle
ambitions in the Champions League, the FA Cup - they face
Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-finals of that competition later
this month - and the Premier League where they occupy fifth
Chelsea will attempt to extend a 100 percent home record of
four wins in the Champions League this season against Jorge
Jesus's team who knocked Braga off the top of the Portuguese
league at the weekend.
Benfica are now second behind Porto.
Twice European Cup winners Benfica demonstrated their
potential for an upset when they drew 2-2 at Manchester United
in the group stages in November.
Coveted Argentine winger Nicolas Gaitan will be out to
repeat his outstanding performance in the 2-1 win over Braga on
Saturday and further impress the scouts from Europe's biggest
Compatriot Pablo Aimar, suspended against Braga, is also
available to return with his vision and pinpoint passing skills.
Jesus said Benfica's first-leg defeat should galvanise his
side at Stamford Bridge.
"I think Benfica were the better team in the first leg -
even much of the English press recognised Chelsea were lucky to
go away with the win," said the coach.
"The Champions League is really making us sweat. We still
keep playing with great intensity but the fact is we don't have
a lot of time to recover and we can already notice some
Jesus's main concerns are in central defence where Ezequiel
Garay, Jardel and Miguel Vitor are all out injured.
"Luisao is the only centre-back we have. That is a
difficulty and we will have to be a bit creative," he said.
Chelsea: 1-Petr Cech; 2-Branislav Ivanovic, 24-Gary Cahill,
26-John Terry, 3-Ashley Cole; 5-Michael Essien, 8-Frank Lampard;
7-Ramires, 10-Juan Mata, 21-Salomon Kalou; 9-Fernando Torres
Benfica: 1-Artur Moraes; 14-Maxi Pereira, 4-Luisao, 6-Javi
Garcia, 3-Emerson; 28-Axel Witsel, 21-Nemanja Matic, 20-Nicolas
Gaitan, 8-Bruno Cesar; 10-Pablo Aimar, 7-Oscar Cardozo.
Bayern fans snap up 45,000 tickets to watch Champions League final live at Allianz Arena
When Sir Alex wakes up on Monday morning without team to manage, he will not be putting his feet up
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder announces he will be retiring at the end of the current season
Record goal-scorer signs a one-year contract extension with Europa League winners Chelsea
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010