The draw at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, saw the Londoners draw Swiss outfit Basel while the Portuguese will take on Fenerbahce of Turkey. Chelsea are bidding to become only the fourth team in history to win all three of European football’s club competitions.
Having already won the Champions League last year and the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971 and 1998, they now hope to add the Europa League to join the likes of Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich in doing the European treble. Benfica are bidding for their first European trophy since their glory years of the 1960s.
They reached the final of the old UEFA Cup in 1983 but were beaten 2-1 on aggregate by Belgian side Anderlecht. None of the four semi-finalists has ever won the competition before.
Fenerbahce and Basel will host the first legs on April 25 with the return fixtures due to be played on May 2.
Earlier on Thursday night, ten-man Tottenham crashed out of the tournament, losing a quarter-final penalty shoot-out to Basel, leaving Chelsea as England’s sole survivors after Newcastle also exited.