Chelsea are just one step away from reaching the UEFA Europa League finale for the first time since they won the competition in 2013, greeting Eintracht Frankfurt at Stamford Bridge for the second semi-final fixture.
Maurizio Sarri saw his side salvage a 1-1 draw in the first leg whilst in Germany during a difficult and eventful evening, Pedro scoring the crucial away goal after Luka Jovic headed the home team in front.
Back at The Bridge and fresh from securing UEFA Champions League football for next season, The Blues will aim to extend their unbeaten record in the competition at a stadium that has become a fortress under Sarri; Manchester United were the last to win in West London, a 2-0 defeat back in February in the Emirates FA Cup.
Eintracht Frankfurt have been in fine form themselves on the road, losing just once in nine; this one blip coming on Sunday, a 6-1 drubbing by Bayern Leverkusen.
Before this ‘winner takes it all’ bout, we have infused a Chelsea and Eintracht Frankfurt UEFA Europa League statistics based XI, courtesy of WhoScored.com.
Goalkeeper: Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt) 7.00
Chelsea had their chances to bring the tie back to England in their favour, giving Kevin Trapp a few scares but nothing more than Pedro’s strike.
The German keeper did deny Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s clean effort, pushing his saves from inside the penalty area to 23, a record high so far in the tournament.
Defender: Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea) 7.07
Much like our line-up last week, Davide Zappacosta only appears due to lack of defenders at our disposal, replacing Jovic, Eintracht Frankfurt’s ferocious forward.
The Italian hasn’t played in Europe since the round of 16 at Dynamo Kyiv having featured in the previous eight, yet has still made more accurate short passes than any right-back (429).
Defender: Danny da Costa (Eintracht Frankfurt) 7.16
Danny da Costa is another to be included by default, Chelsea’s Ross Barkley being the unfortunate casualty.
That being said, the German defender has featured in all Eintracht Frankfurt’s European fixtures this term, playing majority on the right of midfield. He still exerts his defensive duties, as no right-back has blocked more passes (15).
Defender: Emerson (Chelsea) 7.20
Emerson regained his spot from Marcos Alonso in the opening leg, even after the Spaniard scored a crucial away goal against Slavia Prague in the previous round to hand Chelsea a sizeable advantage.
Unsure whether the Brazilian will start again due to the fragile nature of the scoreline, Emerson can provide an influence further forward if his team need a goal; no full-back left in the tournament has more key passes (10).
Right-midfield: Willian (Chelsea) 7.66
During Chelsea’s last UEFA Europa League campaign, Willian was an Anzhi Makhachkala player, losing out to fellow English club Newcastle United in the round of 16.
Now firmly a Blue, Willian is yet to miss a European tie this year, hoping to avenge his fate of six years ago. He’s gone the right way about it; unexpectedly, no winger has made more successful dribbles than the Brazilian (25).
Centre-midfield: Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) 7.53
Having now appeared in Sarri’s last 17 team selections, whether as a starter or from the bench, it shows the faith now exerted upon the 23-year-old’s shoulders by his manager.
Loftus-Cheeks last, and only goals, in Europe were delivered in hat-trick form against BATE Borisov in October, yet his strength with the ball at his feet has been his weapon of choice; no central-midfielder has dribbled past an opponent on more occasions (33).
Centre-midfield: Filip Kostic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 7.59
It will come as a shock to any avid Eintracht Frankfurt fans that Jovic has not made it into our selection, especially due to his 28-goal haul in all competitions this season, including nine in the UEFA Europa League.
However, he is not the only Serbian serving up the goods, as Filip Kostic has struck on four occasions during the run to the semis. No winger left in the tournament has made more interceptions than Kostic (10).
Left-midfield: Pedro (Chelsea) 7.26
Nifty footwork and accurate finishing have become a familiar trait to Pedro’s game in recent memory, executing just that in the first leg to hand Chelsea the crucial away goal.
His contribution goes beyond that of the four he’s netted already, attempting 474 passes, the most of any winger.
Forward: Sebastien Haller (Eintracht Frankfurt) 7.84
Another member of Eintracht Frankfurt’s fierce firepower is Sebastien Haller, with five to his name in nine appearances, providing two for top scorer Jovic in the process.
Haller’s hard work off the ball perhaps becomes overshadowed by his exploits on it; he is level with Salzburg’s Munas Dubbar for highest amount of tackles for a forward (13).
Forward: Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) 7.52
With time running out on Olivier Giroud’s contract, Chelsea may be wise to extend it for another 12 months, particularly after what he’s provided in Europe.
Still the top scorer in the tournament (nine goals), the FIFA World Cup winner has made more key passes than any other striker (15).
Forward: Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea) 7.60
Callum Hudson-Odoi will be cursing his luck as the starlet will miss the match and possibly the final due to an Achilles tendon injury, just as he was brewing up a head of steam in the first team.
He can still take pride in his achievements over the past six months, including the fact that Willian is the only winger to have completed more successful dribbles (22).
By Nathaniel Kay
Chelsea, Blues, Eintracht Frankfurt, Maurizio Sarri, Kevin Trapp, Danny da Costa, Davide Zappacosta, Emerson, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Willian, Pedro, Filip Kostic, Sebastien Haller, World Cup, Champions League, Europa League, Stamford Bridge, Olivier Giroud, Anzhi Makhachkala, Newcastle United, Manchester United