The Swiss side knocked Tottenham out of the Europa League on Thursday night, and the Blues' Spanish manager is expecting a difficult challenge when the two sides meetChelsea boss Rafa Benitezis adamant that Europa League semifinal opponent Basel will pose a stern test for the west London club.
The Swiss side added Tottenham to its growing list of big scalps on Thursday night, having beaten Manchester United and Bayern Munich in recent years, while Chelsea stumbled past Rubin Kazan.
With Fenerbahce and Benfica drawn in the other semifinal, the Blues have avoided a long round trip, but Benitez believes that is minor compensation given the array of attacking talent Basel possesses.
“Basel is not too far away so maybe it's not a bad option [in the Europa League semi-final], only because of that,” the Spanish manager warned. “They're a good team, an offensive team, and will be dangerous as well.
“We know Basel have a great atmosphere in their stadium [St. Jakob-Park], so it will be interesting. They are an offensive team who play with intensity, a good team who did well against Tottenham.”
Before taking Basel, Benitez’s side must first traverse a tricky FA Cup semifinal against Manchester City, but regardless of the result, the 52-year-old boss is pleased with how the season has progressed.
“In terms of two semifinals and still in the top three [in the Premier League] we're really pleased,” Benitez continued. “It's a young squad with new players coming into the Premier League. We still need more experience, but that's getting better.
“We will see what happens at the end of the season, but top three, another semi-final. Not bad.”