8 May 2019

Chelsea v. Frankfurt Preview  (Sky Sports)

Eden HazardEden Hazard is expected to receive his third Europa League start of the season in Chelsea's semi-final second leg against Eintracht Frankfurt at Stamford Bridge on Thursday (kick-off 8pm).

The Belgium international has played just 272 minutes in this season's competition, but Maurizio Sarri is likely to bring him back into the fold as the Blues, level at 1-1 from the first leg, look to secure their place in the final in Baku.

N'Golo Kante has been ruled out of contest with a hamstring injury, with Sarri confirming the France international faces a battle to be fit for the final on May 29, should Chelsea qualify.

Mateo Kovacic is expected to deputise in midfield in Kante's absence, while Europa League regulars Emerson Palmieri, Willian and Olivier Giroud are in line to start.

Frankfurt, meanwhile, have welcomed back Croatia forward Ante Rebic ahead of the trip to London. His return could see Mijat Gacinovic drop to the bench, while striker Sebastien Haller (stomach) is unavailable.

Opta stats

All four of the previous teams to draw the first leg of a Europa League semi-final away from home went on to progress to the final, most recently Atletico Madrid against Arsenal last season.

Chelsea have been eliminated on three of the last four occasions they've drawn the first leg of a European knockout tie away from home, including their most recent two (vs PSG in the 2014-15 Champions League and vs Atletico in the 2013-14 Champions League).

Chelsea could reach their first major European final since the 2013 Europa League, when they beat Benfica 2-1 under manager Rafael Benitez.

Eintracht Frankfurt are looking to reach their first European final since the 1980 UEFA Cup, when they beat fellow German side Borussia Moenchengladbach on away goals over two legs.

Chelsea have never lost a home game against German opponents in all competitions (W7 D2), keeping a clean sheet in seven of their nine such games.

Eintracht Frankfurt have lost their last four away games against English sides by an aggregate score of 1-11. However, their last such game was at Spurs in 1982.

Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 16 Europa League games, the longest such run in the competition since it was rebranded in 2009-10.

Eintracht have only lost one of their last eight away Europa League games (W5 D2), though it was in the last round at Benfica. The German side have scored in all six of their games on the road in the competition this season.

Chelsea's Olivier Giroud has scored 10 Europa League goals this season - the last player to score more for an English club in a season in a single major European competition (excluding qualifiers) was Alan Shearer in 2004-05 (11 in the UEFA Cup).

Luka Jovic has scored nine goals in the Europa League this season - it's the most goals scored by an Eintracht Frankfurt player in a campaign in a single major European competition.

Charlie's prediction

Maurizio Sarri has made the top four with Chelsea, but he has never won a trophy. I was a bit disappointed with Frankfurt in the first leg, but they never played overly defensive. They had Chelsea on their heels for 30 minutes. Maybe the tension will ease off as they have nothing to lose.

This game will be tighter than most people will be hoping for. Surely, Sarri will play Eden Hazard - it isn't as though he is exhausted or has injury worries. I think he will play and make the difference here.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: Chelsea 2-1 Frankfurt - 15/2 with Sky Bet

When is the Europa League final?

The Europa League final, the 10th in its current format and 48th overall of Europe's second-tier competition, will take place on May 29, 2019 at the Olympic Stadium, Baku, Azerbaijan.

Kick-off is at 8pm (BST), 9pm (CEST).

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