Losing in the Champions League has its benefits and rewards for certain teams, as both Benfica and Chelsea made the most of dropping to the knockout stages in the Europa League, making it to the 2013 final, a first for both teams in the competition.
For Chelsea, it’s a second consecutive European final appearance, while Benfica, on the verge of becoming Portugal’s champions, it is the first appearance in a European final since 1990, when they lost to AC Milan 1-0.
Benfica are two time European champions, but they’ve never won the UEFA Cup or Europa League, reaching the final once, in 1983. They began the season in the Champions League, finishing third behind Barcelona and Celtic but above Spartak Moscow for the final Europa League ticket. In the inferior competition, they’ve beaten Bayer Leverkusen (3-1), Bordeaux (4-2), Newcastle (4-2) in the quarterfinals and Fenerbahce (3-2) in the semifinals. Oscar Cardozo is their leading scorer in the competition with six goals in 8 matches.
In the Portuguese League, Benfica are on their way to win their first league title in two years, leading the table by 4 points with three matches left to play this season. Lima, with 17 goals, is their top scorer in the competition this season.
Another Champions League dropout, Chelsea finished third in a group that included Juventus and Shakhtar that finished ahead of them. They went through Sparta Prague (2-1) in the round of 32, Steaua București in the round of 16 (3-2), Rubin Kazan in the quarterfinals (5-4) and Basel in the semifinal (4-1), making their first ever appearance in the final of the competition. Fernando Torres, with 5 goals, is their leading scorer in the competition.
In the Premier League, Chelsea are 4th at the moment, with five matches left to play. Scoring 13 goals, Frank Lampard is their top scorer.