The Blues have a 1-0 lead heading into the deciding leg at
home. Will they end up booking their place in the semi-finals?
It's been a terrific turnaround for a team that was in great
turmoil earlier on in the season.
There seems to be a renewed sense of squad spirit under
Roberto Di Matteo and the results have been much more positive because of it.
Chelsea was able to grab a crucial away goal and hold a
cleansheet as well in a 1-0 victory over in Portugal (a little better than I predicted). Benfica had a ton of
chances to find the back of the net, but Petr Cech was oustanding and the Blues
Salamon Kalou's goal in the second half had put the Blues
that much closer to a last four spot in the biggest European competition.
Blues favored in return leg
For the second leg, Chelsea is favored at -145 odds at
Pinnacle to win straight up, whilte Benfica can be backed anywhere from from
+420 to +481 in the soccer odds. A draw, which would see the Blues advance, is
listed around the +300 area.
The Blues have a lot of momentum heading into this match
after beating Aston Villa 4-2 over the weekend (right winner, wrong score on that one).
Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring before a brace from
Branislav Ivanovic and a fourth for good measure from Fernando Torres wrapped
up the three points for Chelsea. It was the striker's first Premier League goal
in close to six months.
Though the Blues are tied for fifth in the league, they're
five points back of both Arsenal and Tottenham and there's plenty of time left
for them to make a late charge and squeak into the Champions League spots for
Benfica also grabbed a domestic win over the weekend,
beating Sporting Braga 2-1 in what was a crucial game in the title race. Axel
Witsel converted a penalty and Brunco Cesar scored the winner in stoppage time
to give the hosts the victory.
A return to the winning side will serve the Portuguese
outfit well, but overturning a deficit in London is going to be a huge ask.
Hold on Chelsea!
Didier Drogba is sidelined with a toe injury, meaning Torres
is likely to get another start. He definitely appears to be his old self again
considering he's had a massive effect on pretty much all of Chelsea's most
Former Benfica defender David Luiz is also a doubt after
limping off against Villa over the weekend. Gary Cahill, who's been solid since
his transfer from Bolton, is the prime candidate to fill in on defense.
The Blues have won every one of their Champions League games
at Stamford Bridge this term, conceding only goal in the process. That adds to
the daunting task that lay ahead for Benfica.
Di Matteo has been smart with the way he's managed this team
since he took over the reigns, giving various players rest when needed. He
seems to have a great pulse on his squad and I believe the team he picks this
Wednesday will do enough to capture a spot in the Champions League semi-finals.
Soccer betting pick: Chelsea 2 Benfica 1
Aggregate: Chelsea 3 Benfica 1