Chelsea falter in Europe
While Jose Mourinho and Co. opened their Champions League bid with a 4-0 destruction of the Romanians and then produced flawless displays of football against Schalke, winning both legs by a combined total of 6 to nil. Their account against Basel left much to be desired. So much so that there is cause for real concern, not only for their fate in Champions League but also in Premier League. A fact that was recently exacerbated by defeat to Stoke City at the weekend, which although came on the road marked the first time in 38 years the Potters beat the Blues in Premier League!
Twice Chelsea faltered to Swiss upstarts in this competition. They were on the business end of a 2-1 defeat to Basel at Stamford Bridge on opening day as well as a 1-0 defeat on the road to the Swiss on match day 5, the only two games in Europe’s top-flight league in which the Blues leaked any points. Aside from those unexpected results, they’ve been flawless, winning all three matches convincingly, with clean sheets and plenty of goals to boot.
The Blues must be happy to see the back of the Swiss (for now at least) and confident of gaining the requisite result against the Group’s bottom-scrapers Steaua Bucharest. Well, soccer betting odds are listing Chelsea as the massive -1600 favourites to win Group E compared to Basel and Schalke, both of which are still in the running for top spot and are listed at +800 and +2000, respectively at Bet365.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that things could have been very different for the Blues. Only thanks to Schalke’s lacklustre draw in Bucharest on match day five are Chelsea in this sure position to advance into the last 16 and on the verge of clinching top spot. Had Schalke 04 held up their end in soccer betting markets and beaten the Romanians, Chelsea and Mourinho would have paid a much heavier price for their defeat in Basel: the Blues would have been left to fight for Champions League survival all the while Mourinho would be trying to avoid the ignominy of Abramovic’s chopping block.
Chelsea are listed as the equally impressive -500 favourites to beat the Romanians at Stamford Bridge. A favourable market stance that is compounded further by Steaua’s ridiculously large +1600 odds to win on the road; only Celtic – understandably so, mind – are listed larger underdogs in midweek Champions League betting with prices hovering at +1800 and higher on a win in Barcelona depending on the sportsbook of choice.
Steaua’s campaign was done and done almost from the get go. Back-to-back disembowelling by Chelsea and Schalke, respectively, rendered them obsolete in the competition and effectively spelled the end. In spite of the early humiliations, the Romanians kept their peckers up and managed to take three face-saving points in row on the back of back-to-back draws against Basel and a draw to Schalke.
That Steaua are riding positive enough form (little though it does for their plight in Europe) is encouraging. Moreover, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain with a standout performance at Stamford Bridge.
That said it’s hard to look beyond the 3-0 trouncing they received at home to the Blues. Stamford Bridge is an intimidating arena even to the best of them so expecting the Romanians to ‘Vieni, Vidi, Vici,’ is a bit of a stretch wouldn’t you say? Moreover, Mourinho and Co. have a knack for suddenly coming up with sublime football just when the spotlight is trained, the criticism heating up. Not for nothing is he known for being a bit of a mind-games guru.
Soccer Betting Verdict: Everything about this game points to a home banker – anything else would constitute as a massive upset in soccer betting. At -500 soccer odds however it’s not a profit-making enterprise so soccer fans looking to back Chelsea will need to look elsewhere for value soccer picks. The Over 2.5 at -211 presents value but the goal margins offer even better value with Chelsea to win by 2 goals trading at +300, by 3 goals at +375 and, finally, by 4+ goals at +333 at Bet365.
Soccer Free Picks: Chelsea to win outright at -500; Over 2.5 at -211
Bonus Free Picks: Chelsea by 3 goals at +375