On Wednesday evening in the Amsterdam ArenA, Petr Cech will attempt to win the sixth different trophy of his Chelsea career.
Victory over Benfica would also bring this particular piece of silverware into the club’s trophy cabinet for the first time, and such facts, plus peculiarities such as the chance to be the first to hold both major European club titles for a few days are unlikely to be lost on the Chelsea keeper given his scholarly approach to his sport.
However the Lisbon side, who put up strong resistance during our journey to Munich last year, eventually losing 3-1 on aggregate, will make the Europa League final an enthralling contest reckons Cech.
‘This season Benfica are a step ahead of the team we beat in the quarter-final last season,’ he says
‘They have been having a very good season in their league, dominating for most of the campaign. We know what happened in their last game [a defeat at Porto], but they can still win the title and they use their experience of playing European cups every year.
‘They have good balance with experienced players and with speed going forward.
‘For us the disappointment was big when you drop out of the Champions League because it was not the way we wanted the season to go, but that disappointment drove us through the campaign. We used it as motivation to do well in this competition.’
Cech agrees that victory in Europe would put a shine on this campaign, and he is fully aware that his two previous appearances in a UEFA final have ended with him centre stage, as they were decide by a penalty shoot-out.
‘We had a few targets this season and not every time we managed to fulfil them, but the big one is the spot in the league that gets us to the Champions League for next season, and now this is a massive game for the football club and we would like to make history by winning the game. By making history in Europe you always remember the season as a successful one.
‘In the end it doesn’t matter how you win a European final, if it has to be penalties then let it be but I believe it will be an interesting game, difficult for both teams.
‘We have the experience of losing one final on penalties and winning one on penalties so let’s see what is going to happen, but the ideal is you win the game in 90 minutes.’