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Basel bestow high praise on rivals Chelsea

FC Basel 1893 drew "the best team left in the competition" according to coach Murat Yakin, who was on the losing side against Chelsea FC in a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final.

Basel bestow high praise on rivals Chelsea
Basel bestow high praise on rivals Chelsea ©UEFA.com

Having accounted for one London club, Tottenham Hotspur FC, to reach their first European semi-final, FC Basel 1893 are now plotting how to eliminate another in Chelsea FC, as they size up the challenge posed by "the best team left" in the UEFA Europa League.

That is the view of Basel coach Murat Yakin, who perhaps has a score to settle with the Blues – the 38-year-old was in the VfB Stuttgart side beaten 1-0 by Chelsea in the 1998 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final in Stockholm. Opposite number Rafael Benítez, meanwhile, is keen to experience the St. Jakob-Park atmosphere in the first leg on 25 April. 

Murat Yakin, Basel coach
Fenerbahçe would obviously have been a special draw for me, but now we simply have to find a way to prevail against Chelsea. Chelsea are the best team left in the competition, but there is no reason to feel upset or afraid of this draw. I've never been to the Stamford Bridge and I'm looking forward to playing there.

Bernhard Heusler, Basel president
The party isn't over for us yet. We look forward to returning to London.

Ottmar Hitzfeld, Switzerland coach
Swiss teams traditionally like to play English clubs. They have a very good record against English sides. That makes me optimistic for the games against Chelsea. Basel played very well at Tottenham and should have won there. I also watched the game last night and felt they were again on the same level as Tottenham. Tottenham, on the other hand, compete with Chelsea in the Premier League so it's not impossible for Basel to prevail.

Rafael Benítez, Chelsea manager
Every one [of the teams left] could be difficult, but Basle is not too far away so maybe it is a good option. 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.

David Barnard, Chelsea secretary
If you are going to get knocked out, this is not the round you want to be knocked out in. We're looking forward to hopefully proceeding further in the competition and arriving in Amsterdam. Basel have to be regarded as a strong opponent because as we all know last season they were in the [UEFA Champions League] group stage with Manchester United. They were probably responsible for Manchester United not qualifying. Having beaten Tottenham, they are going to be very tough opposition. 

Previous meetings
The teams are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition. Basel's record in 18 games against English clubs is W3 D7 L8 (W3 D3 L3 at home – W0 D4 L5 in England). Chelsea have encountered Swiss opposition once before, losing 2-1 on aggregate to FC St Gallen in a 2000/01 UEFA Cup first-round tie.

Semi-final pedigree
While Basel are in the last four of a UEFA competition for the first time, this will be the London side's 11th semi-final appearance, a total which includes four victories. The most recent of those was 12 months ago when they defeated FC Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate en route to winning the UEFA Champions League.