Chelsea who are the last remaining British side in the Champions League, have been drawn against Portuguese side Benfica in the quarter-final stage. There is the possibility that either side could face Barcelona in the semi-finals, the Spanish side is the form side in the European competition and one of the strong favourites to win the entire competition.
Barcelona or AC Milan
This will be the first time either side will have played each other, and should Chelsea come through victorious they will be facing Milan or Barcelona. The other quarter final matches have seen Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid come up against Apoel Nicosia from Cyprus, and Marseille will play Bayern Munich.
The first legs have been scheduled for March 27/28, and the second legs will be played on April 3/4. Chelsea have two former Benfica players in their squad in David Luiz and Ramires, which could potentially spice up the games.
The Portuguese side are performing well in their league, lying second in table to Porto who lead by a point. Benfica turned out winners in their group in the Champions League, after drawing home and away to a off colour Manchester United highlighting their resilience against top sides. Benfica are not to be ruled out from sending Chelsea crashing from the tournament. Since they have already displayed their resolve, overcoming a first-leg defeat to Zenit St Petersburg in the first knockout stages.
Stand in manager Roberto Di Matteo said that in general the better teams remain in later stages of the Champions League, but he is happy that his team have been drawn away in the first leg. He has not given any thought to the potential semi-final game, which will be a tough game whoever reigns victorious out of Milan or Barcelona.
Rui Costa, the current director and former player of Benfica, said that his side have nothing to fear after stating that Benfica will be concentrating on their own strengths. The winner of the competition will collect 31.5 million Euros, with every side in this year’s Champions League benefiting from 7.2 million Euros.
If Chelsea do come out on top against Benfica, it would provide perfect occasion for the London side to avenge their defeat to the Spaniards in 2009. During that match Andres Iniesta scored a goal in injury time to send Chelsea out of the competition.
If Chelsea do win their matches, they would be hoping that Barcelona and AC Milan battle hard over the two legs which will maybe remove the sting from either side.
The director of AC Milan Umberto Gandini has said: “It’s a game every player dream to play, both teams will be very motivated and we will see the winner of Benfica-Chelsea in the semi-finals!”