Chelsea V Benfica Preview: 5 Reasons Why The Blues Will Set Up A Revenge Rematch With Barcelona

The Huffington Post UK  |  By Posted: 4/04/2012 15:59 Updated: 4/04/2012 15:59

Following a classic European away performance which culminated in Salomon Kalou's winner, Chelsea will seek to replicate the savvy of their round-of-16 performance against Napoli versus Benfica tonight.

Didier Drogba's faux-quaking at drawing the two-time European champions in the quarter-finals may as well have been genuine after the hosts' haplessness last week.

Considering their visitors' porousness this campaign, Petr Cech was rarely tested as stage fright appeared to get the better of Los Encarnados, who had not reached the last eight of the competition since 2006.

Kalou wins it:

However they have sampled success in England already this season. A 2-2 draw with Manchester United in the group stage effectively assured them of first place in Group C, as they came from 2-1 behind to level through Pablo Aimar in November.

The Lisbon side have won three times on English soil from 14 games against three separate sides. Victories against Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton have all come via two-goal margins - the same figure they require this evening to progress in normal time.

But with Chelsea resurgent under Roberto Di Matteo and chomping at the bit to face Barcelona for the first time since that controversial 2009 semi-final, the chances are slim.

Here's five reasons why Chelsea fans should not fret ahead of tonight's clash at Stamford Bridge...

CONFIDENCE

Just look at Didier Drogba's reaction to the draw. Him and his team-mates are not under the same duress as prior to either games against Napoli, and the 5-4 aggregate win over the Italian side - as well as last week's excellent performance in Portugal - have buoyed a once-flagging side.

EXPERIENCE

The Blues are not the force they were, but their enviable experience was a huge advantage in the return leg two weeks ago, and it could prove to be pivotal against Benfica too. The Neapolitans' forwards, despite their speed of thought, choked at the Bridge while their leaky defence was exposed more drastically than at the Stadio San Paolo. Benfica are a similar entity and were not punished sufficiently by a misfiring United at Old Trafford in November.

The Blues' Yossi Benayoun, on-loan at Arsenal, has wished his colleagues the best:


Yossi Benayoun
Good luck to Chelsea tonight, hope they will win and goal from FT will be great

HOME COMFORTS

Last week was the first time the two clubs have faced each other, and although Chelsea had not won on the continent since a 2-0 victory versus Copenhagen over a year ago, their home form this season has been flawless. Four wins from four games, with 15 goals scored in the process, only heightens the ominousness for Benfica.

HAPPINESS

The first leg in Naples was marred by supposed subordination from players who clarified their distrust in Andre Villas-Boas again. Now, with John Terry's presence on the touchline becoming as influential as on the pitch, the players are contented with the present set-up, and Di Matteo's display of man-management with Torres will have only augmented the harmony.

Ryan Bertrand appears more concerned about a blizzard than Benfica:


Ryan Bertrand
Is back..hope u all are good and healthy.. Looking forward to summer?Whats with the weather! Im hearing snow up north! Madness

BARCA BECKON

Relics of the Mourinho era they may be, but some squad members are still desperate to win the Champions League. As selfish and risible the player power culture at Chelsea is, the goal of becoming European champions for the first time brings out their selfless side. Time is running out, but the likes of Terry, Lampard, Drogba and Ashley Cole would relish a rematch with the Blaugrana in the semis, having gone so close to beating them three years ago.

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