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Petr Cech’s European Dream

Petr Cech has already won the UEFA Champions League last year, and now it’s time for the Chelsea shot stopper to face Benfica in the UEFA Europa League final tonight.

Cech has had a love-hate relationship with the Champions League, having been denied the opportunity to lift the trophy in penalties back in 2008 on a cold night in Moscow against Manchester United. But Cech had the joy of winning on penalties last year through Didier Drogba’s winning spot kick. It was a trophy the club’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich wanted the most, and set the Blues on the right track. Perhaps the win persuaded former Lille superstar Eden Hazard to decline offers from United and Manchester City, joining the side at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea face Benfica on the back of a win against Aston Villa this past weekend, and will be confident of putting up a strong fight against the Portuguese side. The form of Spanish wizard Juan Mata has tormented opposition defenses this season in the Barclays Premier League, and Cech will be hoping the midfielder can pose a similar threat in tonight’s match.

Benfica will be no easy match for Chelsea, as they have been a formidable force this season in their own domestic league, losing just once in the entire campaign, that being against FC Porto this past Sunday. In the 8 matches played by the side in the Europa League, Benfica have lost just 1 match, in the first leg of the semi-final against Turkish side Fenerbache.

Under the leadership of manager Jorge Jesus, Benfica are the top scorers in the league, scoring 74 goals, underlining their attacking prowess.

Chelsea will be without Hazard and skipper John Terry tonight, as both sustained injuries in the away win against Villa at the weekend. This means Frank Lampard is most likely to be given the captain’s armband, i.e. if the England international starts. If not, it could also be Cech, who has served the club for 291 matches, as skipper in goal.

According to the Metro, Cech said, “Winning back-to-back European trophies would be a great story too, with more or less the same circumstances, having to change the manager during the course of the season. Hopefully, it will be the same end.”

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