LONDON, (Reuters) – A revitalised Fernando Torres is expected to lead Chelsea’s attack tomorrow when they try to sweep Benfica aside to claim their sixth Champions League semi-final appearance in nine years.
Torres, 28, who scored his first Premier League goal since September in Saturday’s 4-2 triumph at Aston Villa, has netted three times in the last four starts and is set to continue at the expense of the injured Didier Drogba.
The Spain striker’s renewed sharpness has helped boost Chelsea’s team spirit in recent weeks as he has provided a series of key assists including one for Salomon Kalou in the 1-0 quarter-final irst leg victory at Benfica last week. “Strikers feed off goals but apart from that Fernando’s been playing very well, even without the goals, by assisting on other goals,” interim manager Roberto Di Matteo told reporters. “He works so hard for the team. He’s enjoying himself. He’s enjoying playing. He’s got a smile on his face and he’s confident.”
Ivorian Drogba, 34, who picked up a toe injury in training on Friday, is fighting to prove his fitness for tomorrow’s game, as is Brazil centre half David Luiz.
Former Benfica player Luiz limped off at Villa Park with an ankle ligament injury and is likely to be replaced by England international Gary Cahill. Chelsea have lost just once in eight matches since Italian Di Matteo replaced the sacked Andre Villas-Boas last month.
The Londoners have won six of those games to rekindle ambitions in the Champions League, the FA Cup – they face Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-finals of that competition later this month – and the Premier League where they occupy fifth place.