Benfica v Chelsea
UEFA Europa League
7.45pm BST, Wednesday 15 May 2013
by Jamie Reid
Former Chelsea duo Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Tore Andre Flo have both spoken of their confidence in the Blues’ current crop as they head to Amsterdam on Wednesday night bidding to create European history.
Rafael Benitez’s men could become the only team to hold both of UEFA’s biggest club trophies consecutively.
The Londoners are also hoping to join the illustrious company of Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich as one of only four teams to have won all three major UEFA club competitions – the UEFA Cup/Europa League, Cup Winners’ Cup and the Champions League.
Former striker Hasselbaink does, however, have a few words of caution for his old team, warning them not to underestimate the quality of the side they face in the showpiece Final.
He said: “It’s not going to be an easy game, that’s for sure.
“Benfica have always been a very strong, physical side who have always had great talent within their squad – so I don’t think it’s going to be that easy.
“Obviously Chelsea are the favourites, but it’s one game, so in a Final everything can happen and I’m sure it will be a lot closer than a lot of people think."
Hasselbaink, who signed for Chelsea from Athletico Madrid in 2000, finished as the Premier League top scorer in his first season at the club.
The Dutchman also fought in numerous league and cup games simultaneously during his time at Stamford Bridge, and was keen to point out that tiredness in the Chelsea ranks, from playing in a record eight competitions so far this term, will not be a factor.
He added: “I don’t think the number of games Chelsea have had to play this season will affect them because you will always find the strength to play that game.
“It’s a Final, a European Final, they don’t just come around that easy so you will get the strength from wherever; and I don’t think tiredness will be a factor at all.”
Meanwhile Flo, one of Hasselbaink’s predecessors in the striker’s berth at Stamford Bridge, was upbeat about his former team’s chances against Benfica.
“I think the chances are good for Chelsea, they look like they are in good form at the moment and some of the vital players are doing well.
“I think that they have a more than 50 per cent chance of winning. I think Chelsea will win 3-1.”
Chelsea go into the game in the Amsterdam Arena having never previously played a competitive match in the Dutch capital, while Benfica return to the site of one of their greatest triumphs – a 5-3 victory over Real Madrid in the 1962 European Cup Final.