CHELSEA’S record goalscorer Frank Lampard believes the outcome of tonight’s Europa League final with Benfica will determine whether their season is remembered as a success or failure.
The Blues are virtually assured of their place in the Champions League next season, such is the superiority of their goal difference to fifth-placed Tottenham, who trail Chelsea by three points with one match to play.
But having lost in the FA Cup and Carling Cup semi-finals, as well as the Club World Cup final this term, Rafael Benitez’s team have one final chance to end the season with silverware.
And Lampard, who has scored 203 goals for Chelsea, wants his team to draw on their experience of winning the Champions League last year and become the first team to win the continental competitions back-to-back.
“The success of our season will be decided here,” he said. “All of us, those who have been here a long time and those who haven’t, want to win this for Chelsea.
“Last year is an inspiration. Looking back, we were probably underdogs back then. We’ve been in a few finals and you come to learn that it’s the little things that make the difference. Benfica are a good team, as Bayern were.
“The closer you get to the final the more you want to be here. As soon as we landed here it was clear this was a European final and we want to win it.”
Midfielder Eden Hazard is sidelined for Chelsea with a hamstring injury, while striker Demba Ba is ineligible.
Interim boss Benitez could hand Lampard the captain’s armband, with regular skipper John Terry struggling with an ankle injury, though the central defender will be given every opportunity to prove his fitness.
“John will still try and see how he feels,” said Benitez. “Now it is not easy for him, but we will speak with the medical staff and after we will decide.
“We have been playing two games per week so every time, it doesn’t matter the name of the opponent, we have had to deal with a small squad, injuries or suspensions, every game was difficult.
“If we win it will be easier for people to realise to be here at this stage of the competition means we have done a lot of things well.”