Today's Europa League semifinal draw has informed us who Chelsea will be facing in the semifinal legs to be played in just a few weeks on 25 April and 2 May, as well as which leg will be first at home, and the answer is...
In drawing Basel, Chelsea have set up the glamour tie for the final, against either Benfica or Fenerbahce, and avoided the dreaded mid-week trip to Turkey, which would have been about as useful as a mid-week trip to Russia. Switzerland is also a much easier trip than Portugal*. Basel are easily the the weakest of the remaining teams, and Chelsea should have no problem beating them. They were your heavy-favourite option of the available draws. As we saw against Spurs, though, they still need to be taken semi-seriously. Ideally we'll run riot in the first leg at St. Jakob Park, allowing us to rest some players for the second at home, before the all-important league match against Manchester United. Scoring some precious rest in this nightmarishly-long season, hopefully before facing the winner of Benfica and Fenerbahce in Amsterdam, would be excellent. Chelsea would be the administrative "away" team in the final, but since neither Benfica nor Fenerbahce wear royal blue, so this should hardly matter.
[*Though not for Rafa Benitez, since his predecessor Roberto di Matteo was, in fact, Swiss.]
First Leg: 25 April, 2013 - St. Jakob Park, Basel, Switzerland
Second Leg: 2 May, 2013 - Stamford Bridge, London, England