Ever since he replaced Roberto Di Matteo as the manager of Chelsea, Rafael Benitez has faced the ire of the club’s supporters largely due to his past love affair with Liverpool and his rivalry with Chelsea favourite Jose Mourinho.
However, with the Europa League final drawing closer, Chelsea fans should be hopeful of some silverware at the end of the season as in the Spaniard, they have a manager who has been very successful in cup competitions and has done especially well in Europe.
Moreover, since establishing his reputation at Valencia all those years ago, Benitez has managed to win a trophy at every club he has been at, which only bodes well for Chelsea who are keen on drawing curtains to the current campaign on a high.
Wednesday's match will bring together two clubs that started the 2012/13 campaign in the Champions League, but inconsistent performances led them to the knockout stage of the Europa League. After eliminating Bayer Leverkusen, Bordeaux, Newcastle, Fenerbahce, Sparta Prague, Steaua, Rubin Kazan and Basel along the way, Benfica and Chelsea will now meet at the Amsterdam Arena to decide the ultimate prize.
The journey to Amsterdam was not easy for either side, but after 16 matches, 29 goals scored, 16 conceded, three cleansheets, 11 victories, two draws and three defeats, these two sides will be more than ready to leave it all on the pitch for the Europa League title.
Just when everything seemed to be heading in the right direction for Jorge Jesus and his side, it now appears ready to fall apart right before his eyes. Could Benfica potentially lose out on two of the three titles they are chasing within a week?
A hard fought victory over Maritimo had Benfica well on their way to winning a 33rd league title. The players came together in the middle of the pitch at the Estádio dos Barreiros to celebrate what many believed to be a crucial match for the Lisbon side. Little did they know that things were about to get really interesting.
Their match at home against Estoril was by no means a guaranteed victory, but having kept their lead at four points over Porto, it was extremely difficult to imagine Benfica dropping points at home, with just three matches remaining.
Miami Beach, Florida (May 13, 2013) – The amount of significance related to the Arsenal vs Wigan Athletic fixture is so huge that LiveSoccerTV.com (@LiveSoccerTV) has singled it out for special live stream and TV schedules coverage. Whether you are in Europe, Africa, Asia, North, Central and South America, right here and right now, find information on where to watch Arsenal vs Wigan Athletic live on Tuesday, May 14, 2013.
This encounter appears as a final for both sides. This English Premier League match is expected to draw a lot of attention from various sets of team fans – namely Spurs fans as well as supporters of sides in danger of relegation, from fourteenth-placed Southampton to seventeenth-placed Sunderland.
Arsenal has not taken the field since they defeated Queens Park Rangers on May 4th at Loftus Road. Since then, the league table has altered with Tottenham and Chelsea having won their respective matches, while Blues and Spurs also drew last Wednesday, keeping the Champions League qualification race very tight.
Wanting to keep their streak of consecutive Champions League appearances alive, Arsene Wenger's side will desperately need the full three points on Tuesday night.
After such a long gap in between matches, Arsenal could benefit from it, but it could also work against them. Wigan on the other hand will enter the match fresh off their shocking victory in the FA Cup Final against Manchester City.
AC Milan will be hoping to secure themselves of third place of the Serie A and a place in next season's UEFA Champions League when they take on Roma at the San Siro on Sunday.
The Rossoneri have been in fine form in recent weeks, with three successive victories, and will be looking to make it four in a row at home against the Giallorossi.
Miami Beach, Florida (May 10, 2013) – All eight matches from the Portuguese Primeira Liga are scheduled to take place on Saturday May 11, 2013. One fixture, in particular, will captivate the public: Porto vs Benfica
It is Portugal’s very own version of El Clasico in Spain, called 'O Classico'. Millions of football fans around the globe are looking to catch every second of this weekend’s match. LiveSoccerTV.com (@LiveSoccerTV) can feed you with info on where to watch Porto vs Benfica live at 15:30 EST / 19:30 GMT / 21:30 CET on Saturday.
Since Monday’s 1-1 draw at home to Estoril, the Portuguese Primeira Liga title is not Benfica’s to lose anymore. The Lisbon-based giants are indeed above any other team on the league table. However, the two-point gap between the first and second spots means that the Dragons of Porto can bring down the flying Eagles of Benfica this Saturday.
Espanyol team news
Espanyol will be without Cristian Alvarez, Felipe Mattioni and Samuele Longo. Goalkeeper Kiko Casilla expressed his horror at conceding three early goals against Sevilla last weekend. He described that as the team’s “worst 30 minutes under Javier Aguirre” in which the players “were very uncomfortable”.
Expect Espanyol to tighten up their defence in order to avoid another beating against goal-hungry Real Madrid. Capedvila, scorer of an own goal against Sevilla, may lose his place to left-back Victor Alvarez in the starting line-up.
As a fan, what more could you ask for than the possibility of being able to claim the league title against your rival? While it may sound appealing and exciting, it could also end up being a complete disappointment. On Saturday, Benfica and Porto will both be out to give their fans something to smile about, as they will go head to head in what will be the title match.
Playing in their 79th league meeting in the city of Porto, the visitors do not have the greatest record on their rivals home ground, but all of that will not matter, given the circumstances.
From their 78 meetings in the league, Benfica has only managed to defeat Porto at the Estádio do Dragão or Estádio das Antas on 12 occasions. That is approximately 15% of their league meetings. As for the hosts, they have managed an incredible 47 victories, amounting to approximately 60%, with the other 19 matches ending in a draw.
A promising four point lead at the top of the Portuguese League had Benfica fans and their players feeling extremely confident. All of that confidence has quickly turned into some doubt after a heroic performance from Estoril on Monday night, which earned them a one goal draw at the Estádio da Luz.
Now, Benfica needs to regroup and put together one of their most important performances of the whole season.
Facing humiliation should be more than enough to get the players prepared for this match from a mental perspective. But, if that will not do it, then maybe the fact that they have a chance to claim the Portuguese title at their rivals stadium will do the trick.
Being able to get revenge after the Porto players celebrated in Lisbon just two years ago would be ideal for the Benfica players and fans, but in order to that, the visitors will need a special performance from everyone involved.
With pride, bragging rights and the Portuguese League title on the line, Saturday's match should bring out the best in all of its participants. No player on that pitch should have any reason to not be motivated and ready to go when the first whistle is blown.
Keeping their emotions in check will be slightly difficult for some, but all the world class players are used to this pressure and these types of matches. Porto will be playing to not only take a massive step towards reclaiming the Portuguese title, but they will also not want to watch Benfica celebrate the Portuguese title at their stadium.
Who will give Porto that edge in Saturday's match?
Miami Beach, Florida (May 10, 2013) – Manchester City and Wigan Athletic will lock horns at Wembley this Saturday to decide the winner of the 2012/13 FA Cup competition. English Premier League champions Manchester United and FA Cup titleholders Chelsea were among the favourites to clinch glory but both stumbled on the road to the final. The world’s oldest knockout tournament title will now go to either Man City or Wigan. Before Wembley transforms into a full house of supporters, check where to watch Manchester City vs Wigan Athletic and do not miss a single moment of it on Saturday, May 11, 2013.
The Citizens are hopeful of ending this season on a high. They suffered a group stage exit in the UEFA Champions League last year before officially losing their EPL crown to the Red Devils a few weeks ago. Roberto Mancini will be looking to guide his men to a fourth piece of silverware in two years.
All things come to an end and so did Sir Alex Ferguson’s 26-year sojourn as the manager of one of the most successful clubs in the history of English football in Manchester United. Within 24 hours of his announcement of retirement, Everton manager David Moyes was named as his compatriot’s successor.
Despite the fact that he has not managed to win any silverware in his 11 years at Everton, many people feel that the soon-to-be Man United manager will be a great replacement.
During his time at Goodison Park, Moyes proved himself to be a really great man manager and got the best out of the players he had at his disposal – something, not many managers are able to do. Moreover, the Scot just like Sir Alex Ferguson, has his way with the young players making their next step from the academy. That could have been the main reason why he was chosen to lead the club from next season. United have always been good at getting the best out of academy players and perhaps, Moyes can continue the trend my nurturing young talent into future superstars.
Miami Beach, Florida (May 10, 2013) – Five matches headline beIN Sports’ packed three-day action dominated by the Italian Serie A, the Spanish La Liga and the Championship. Crystal Palace vs Brighton & Hove Albion kick starts the party at 14:45 EST on Friday to make way for more entertainment on May 11 and May 12. LiveSoccerTV.com (@LiveSoccerTV) breaks down beIN Sport USA and beIN Sport en Español’s live TV listings for you.
La Vecchia Signora cannot stop winning, even after clinching the Scudetto. Fresh from the 1-0 win away to Atalanta, Juve return to their stadium looking to thrill the home crowd again. Watch Juventus vs Cagliari live from 12:00pm EST / 16:00 GMT / 18:00 CET on Saturday, May 11, 2013.
Glenn Whelan, Andy Wilkinson and Marc Wilson are all doubtful for Stoke City. Sandro, William Gallas and Younes Kaboul are all out for the North London side. Mousa Dembele could be set to return after missing the 2-2 draw against Chelsea.
Spurs will leap to fourth in the Premier League table with a win this week…