Chelsea aim to complete full set of Euro trophies
Winning the second-tier competition would lift Chelsea into the top rank of European clubs, as just the fourth to complete the set of major Uefa titles.
Still, history is less important for the reigning European champions than having any trophy to display after failing in seven other competitions this season.
“We have a lot of pressure playing in the Europa League because we obviously want to win it,” goalkeeper Petr Cech said.
Basel will be cheered on by their most famous fan, Roger Federer, and have a taste for English opposition after eliminating Tottenham in the quarter-finals, and Manchester United in last season’s Champions League.
“I’m really glad that they have found tickets for me and Marco Chiudinelli,” said Federer, who will attend the match with his Davis Cup team-mates. “We’re looking forward to this game like little kids.”
Like Basel, Fenerbahce will make their European semi-final debut, at home first in Istanbul against Benfica.
All the last-four teams started the season in the Champions League, and would be first-time winners of the Europa League or its predecessor the Uefa Cup, which began in 1971.
Since Uefa launched club competitions in 1955, only Ajax, Bayern Munich and Juventus have won all three main titles: the European Cup, later rebranded the Champions League; the Cup Winners’ Cup, which ran from 1960-99; and the Uefa Cup or Europa League.
Chelsea can join that elite having won the Champions League last May and the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971 and 1998.
Interim manager Rafa Benitez can reinforce his defence after a 2-2 draw at Liverpool on Sunday. Defenders Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill have returned to the squad after nearly a month out through injury, while John Terry and Frank Lampard are also likely to start after being on the bench at Anfield.
Meanwhile, Benfica are aiming for their ninth European final, although the Portguese club’s captain Luisao has a thigh strain and will likely be replaced by Jardel.
Opponents Fenerbahce are focusing their attention on Europe after falling seven points behind traditional rivals Galatasaray in the Turkish league.