The dethroned champions league winners were the only english team to make it to the semifinals – and the wayward millionaire squad could save a messed up season with two trophies after all. In the no-more-than-not appearance in moscow against rubin kasan (2:3) on thursday evening, chelsea's perennial problem child: "mask man" fernando torres, of all people, shined.
For the spanish world and european champion, the european league has become a therapy program: the hubsche lupfer for a 1:0 lead (4). The fourth goal in the 29-year-old's third competitive match, still wearing the eerie black mask after fracturing his nose against steaua bukarest, was scored in the 29th minute. Like a phantom, the permanently criticized 58-million-euro man has already scored 19 mandatory goals this season. "The old magic is back? Torres is perhaps playing his best football since joining chelsea," says the tabloid daily mail.
Next opponents and last opponent before a possible final on 15. May in amsterdam is FC basel, which eliminated tottenham hotspur with lewis holtby on penalties and reached a european cup semifinal for the first time. In moscow, the blues wonder team without bench printer marko marin once again proved its unpredictability. After the 3:1 in the first leg, it was enough to advance. Chelsea wouldn't be chelsea if it weren't for a half-time spat between lampard and head of defense david luiz that made negative headlines. Coach rafael benitez already talked about the incident: "it's always good when professionals argue about things that happen on the pitch."
Benitez, derided by his own fans as "the interim one", is now a master at making good-mies-to-bad-matches. The ex-liverpool coach knows that he has a good market value after his blues engagement in the summer – if chelsea win the anticipated FA cup final against manchester city this sunday and win two titles at the end of the season as they did the year before.
After all, the europa league trophy is still missing from the impressive trophy case of the abramovich club. And as in the previous year, the blues are the last english team to be represented internationally. Newcastle united vs. Benfica lisbon and tottenham hotspur vs. Chelsea's next opponents basel both failed in their quarterfinals. Ex-schalker lewis holtby was in the starting eleven for spurs and had to watch idly on the penalty shootout as the frighteningly out-of-form emmanuel adebayor became the bogeyman with a penalty stroke chased across the goal. The togolese player's dancing steps before the miss were the main source of ridicule in fubball england.
Like holtby, lazio rom's miroslav klose was knocked out of the european league. The stricken national striker was not substituted against fenerbahce istanbul until the 56th minute. Minute substitute. Even with their hopefuls, lazio only managed a 1-1 draw in front of another ghostly crowd – not enough after the 2-0 loss in the first leg. "Klose played weighted down and is out of shape, has no rhythm," judged the sports newspaper "corriere dello sport". The "gazzetta dello sport" wrote melancholy: "europe, it remains empty. All the goals. The people from the stadium, the italians from europe."