The potential loss of two such imposing players for the Europa League final would be a body blow for many clubs, but the Blues’ squad depth in their respective positions is reassuring for those considering backing a Chelsea victory against Benfica at 7/5.
John Terry and Eden Hazard were both injured during Chelsea’s high-octane clash with Aston Villa and while they have travelled with their club’s 25-man squad to Amsterdam, they remain injury doubts for the showpiece.
Although their inclusion may suggest that Rafa Benitez is indulging in a bit of pre-game kidology with opposite number Jorge Jesus, the fact that his Amsterdam 25 also includes four goalkeepers and seldom-seen Stamford Bridge spectre Paulo Ferreira suggests their inclusion in the group may be more on the off-chance.
On the one hand it may seem that the loss of such a vastly experienced centre-half would be a big miss on the kind of occasion in which a cool head is required, but after all Terry missed last year’s Champions League decider after a rash and pointless foul on Alexis Sanchez earned him a semi-final red card against Barcelona.
Colleagues Ashley Cole and David Luiz played both legs alongside him against the Blaugrana, whilst Branislav Ivanovic has also has accrued 20 continental appearances over the past two campaigns, meaning their defence won’t be suffering from a lack of experience should Terry’s injury keep him out.
With Chelsea having played more matches without their skipper than with him this season, having to make do without his commanding presence won’t be a shock to the system for Benitez’s men.
The potential absence of Hazard is arguably a greater boon to their opponents’ chances, with the quicksilver Belgian able to open up teams with both his tricky feet and incisive passing. However it’s Juan Mata who ranks as Chelsea’s creator in chief, laying on eight goals to Hazard’s two assists in Europe this term.
Mata’s penetrative passing and Ramires’ willing running should tick the boxes left unticked by the ex-Lille man’s absence and the spare place in Rafa’s XI could be filled by in-form wise head Frank Lampard, meaning no let-off whatsoever for the Benfica midfield.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.