Chelsea's Ramires (R) is challenged by Benfica's Gaitan during their Champions League quarter-final second leg match at Stamford Bridge stadium in London April 4, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER))
A year ago, Chelsea and Benfica faced off in the Champions League quarterfinals. The two sides will face off once more in the Europa League final with redemption in store for both sides.
Benfica is unlikely to forget their disappointment a year ago against Chelsea. After a tough victory of Zenit St. Petersburg, the Portuguese side found itself trailing 1-0 after one game against Chelsea. In the second leg, Javi Martinez managed to tie the game a t one at the 85 minute mark. However, Raul Meireles got rid of any comeback hopes with a goal in stoppage time to vault Chelsea to a 3-1 aggregate victory. It is the first time in 23 years that Benfica has reached a European final.
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"It's a step for Benfica to reach their first European final for 23 years. The results we have got so far have taken us to this final," said Benfica's Coach Jorge Jesus. "As always we have a lot of respect for Chelsea, but we very confident that we can win it."
For Chelsea the redemption is of a different kind. After taking down Benfica, Chelsea cruised through the semifinals against Barcelona and then defeated Bayern Munich in penalties to win the Champions League trophy. The team was expected to make a bid at a repeat, but faltered tremendously in the group stage. Chelsea's poor Champions league form coincided with the team's slide down the standings in the English premier league. An FA Cup loss to Manchester City made the Europa League championship the only hope for Chelsea.
The final takes place on May 15, 2013 at the Amsterdam ArenA in Amsterdam, Holland.