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Basel v Chelsea battles: Hazard takes on ex-Liverpool man, Cole faces Salah

Chelsea's Eden Hazard. Photo: PA Wire Chelsea's Eden Hazard. Photo: PA Wire

Thursday, April 25, 2013
7:00 AM

Chelsea, last season’s Champions League winners, play Tottenham’s conquerors Basel in the Europa League semi-final first leg in Switzerland tonight.

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Here we take a look at the key contests the Blues must win to take an advantage into next week’s second leg at Stamford Bridge.

ALEKSANDAR DRAGOVIC v FERNANDO TORRES

Torres likes the Europa League, particularly since suffering a broken nose in the home tie with Steaua Bucharest. The mask-wearing Spaniard scored twice against the Romanians as part of a run of four goals in three games in the competition. Austrian Dragovic is a combative character who has played all bar 37 minutes of Basel’s campaign and will be responsible for keeping the striker quiet.

PHILIPP DEGEN v EDEN HAZARD

Right-back Degen is in his second spell at Basle and endured an injury interrupted time at Liverpool. Rafael Benitez, now Chelsea’s interim boss, took Degen to Anfield, but the Swiss struggled to make an impact. Belgium’s Hazard, with his mesmerising skill, has been a key component of Chelsea’s side in his first season and will be an integral figure if the Blues are to reach the final.

MOHAMED SALAH v ASHLEY COLE

Salah was outstanding against Tottenham in the previous round and might have made Basel’s progress more comfortable, but for some profligacy. England centurion Cole - if selected to return following his hamstring injury and ahead of Ryan Bertrand - will face a busy evening trying to stall the tricky winger’s progress.

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