Whilst Chelsea stumble towards a top four place, Maurizio Sarri marches on through the UEFA Europa League, boasting an undefeated record in Europe this term.
The Blues will travel to Germany to face free-scoring Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-final, who like their visitors, are fourth in their respective domestic division. Whilst both have an eye on UEFA Champions League football next season, their destiny may be decided in this contest.
Despite the Bundesliga side only tasting defeat once on their European adventures, Chelsea will take comfort that they also have lost just one of their 10 games against German sides in all European competitions, winning their previous two in Germany.
Before the two square off at the Commerzbank-Arena, we have compiled a combined Chelsea and Eintracht Frankfurt XI, based on statistics provided by WhoScored.com.
Goalkeeper: Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt) 6.98
Eintracht Frankfurt have banked on their scoring exploits to propel them through the competition, as opposed to a defensive approach. Kevin Trapp has kept just four clean sheets thus far, yet crucially one came against Benfica in the previous round, sending his side through on away goals.
No keeper has made more saves from inside the penalty area than Trapp (20), third for saves in total (35).
Centre-back: Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea) 7.07
The first of our back three who’s inclusion is by default, to ensure there were enough bodies to actually fill a defence. In truth, Davide Zappacosta has been Sarri’s first choice right-back in the competition, but his spell in the side has been cut short by injury and he has been replaced by Cesar Azpilicueta in the latter rounds.
Much more attack minded than his captain, no right-back has attempted more shots on goal than the Italian (10).
Centre-back: Danny da Costa (Eintracht Frankfurt) 7.15
Next up is Danny da Costa, who again merits a place having failed to miss a fixture in the tournament, replacing a fellow member of his squad, Mijat Gacinovic.
Despite playing the majority of his minutes further upfield, da Costa’s natural position is at full-back. Along with his two goals, his statistics of 26 attempted dribbles demonstrates his threat going forward, placing him second amongst right-backs/ right midfielders.
Centre-back: Emerson (Chelsea) 7.27
Emerson makes the cut as the only defender in the top 11 WhoScored rated Chelsea and Eintracht Frankfurt faces. However, defending has far been in his Brazilian nature, bombing down the flanks at any given opportunity.
No full-back has had more successful dribbles (17) or made more accurate short passes (498).
Right-midfield: Willian (Chelsea) 7.72
When it comes to South American flare, there are few with silkier Samba style than Chelsea’s number 22. A trusted weapon in Sarri’s armoury, Willian has featured in every European tie this season.
He provides goals (three) and the creativity that has been vital for The Blues’ run to the semi’s; no winger has a higher number of assists (seven).
Centre-midfield: Ross Barkley (Chelsea) 7.23
One half of our English partnership in midfield, Ross Barkley has arguably enjoyed his best football whilst playing across Europe, scoring twice against Malmo to take his tally up to five for the campaign.
Chelsea have averaged the highest pass accuracy of any club in the UEFA Europa League, reflecting on Barkley’s stats; current Blue Mateo Kovacic and ex-Blue Cesc Fabregas are the only central midfielders to have attempted more passes than Barkley (Kovacic 607, Fabregas 524, Barkley 505), the Englishman sitting second for accurate short passes (446).
Centre-midfield: Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) 7.43
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has not been installed into the team for his passing capability, making almost 200 hundred less than Barkley. His forte is now well-documented: the ability to juggernaut past his opposition.
Only Dani Olmo of Dinamo Zagreb has completed more successful dribbles from the centre of the park (Olmo 30, Loftus-Cheek 24); nobody has a higher percentage of these at their home stadium than Loftus-Cheek (15).
Left-midfield: Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea) 7.60
Our trio of talented Brits is made up by Callum Hudson-Odoi, who at just 18 years of age, perhaps has the brightest future ahead of him.
In his nine appearances, he has made 22 successful dribbles; no wide player has made more. In that time, he has had a hand in five goals (two assists, three goals).
Forward: Sebastien Haller (Eintracht Frankfurt) 7.84
Eintracht Frankfurt’s French forward has been in fantastic form this year, scoring on 23 occasions, five of those in the UEFA Europa League and assisting three more.
Along with his goals, Sebastien Haller is not afraid to do his dirty work for the team, making 13 tackles, a joint high for strikers in the competition.
Forward: Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) 7.64
Olivier Giroud continues to lead the line for Chelsea in Europe, whilst owning the top spot in the scoring charts, with nine for himself.
Like his fellow Frenchman, Giroud offers many dimensions to his game, most noticeably bringing others into the game around him; he is joint first in the key passes department for strikers (14).
Forward: Filip Kostic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 7.67
It’s no wonder Frankfurt have found the net at least twice in 20 of their previous 23 UEFA Europa League fixtures, with goals flying in from everywhere.
Filip Kostic has found the net four times and provides another dangerous option down the Germans’ left hand-side. In fact, he and Willian are in pole position for total key passes (33), Kostic just edging those of a short variety (23).
By Nathaniel Kay