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Justin Bieber inspires Southend

The Toe Poke

Chelsea-Basel, Fenerbahce-Benfica

NYON, Switzerland -- European champion Chelsea will play Basel in the Europa League semifinals, with the first-leg match in Switzerland.

Fenerbahce will face Benfica, with the opening leg played in Turkey, after UEFA made the pairings on Friday.

Chelsea aims to complete an unlikely double by lifting the second-tier trophy as the reigning Champions League winner.

All four semifinalists began the season in the Champions League before being eliminated and dropping into the second-tier competition.

First-leg matches are on April 25, and return games are on May 2. The final is on May 15 at Amsterdam Arena.

Basel, like Fenerbahce, has reached its first semifinal in any European club competition.

Though Basel has never won a UEFA match in England, it eliminated Tottenham in the quarterfinals on Thursday on a penalty shootout after two 2-2 draws.

Last season, Basel beat Manchester United in the Champions League group stage to advance ahead of the English champion.

None of the semifinalists has won the Europa League, or its predecessor the UEFA Cup. Benfica was beaten finalist in 1983, against Anderlecht.


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