Soccer Picks: Chelsea vs. Schalke 04 UEFA Champions League

Richard O'Hagan

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 4:41 PM GMT

Chelsea made easy work of Schalke 04 in their first leg matchup, so what are the soccer odds makers expecting when the two sides change venues? Find out which lines we are backing with our soccer picks Wednesday.

Chelsea could all but wrap up qualification for the knockout stages with victory in this game. They were the dominant performers last time out, winning comfortably in Germany after rocking Schalke with a fifth minute goal and never letting the tempo of the game drop from then on.

Fernando Torres was Chelsea’s star that night, scoring his first European goal for eighteen months, being denied a hat trick by the woodwork and generally being a through nuisance to his German hosts. The biggest surprise of the evening, really, was that Chelsea didn’t score more than the three, waiting until halfway through the second half to add to that early lead.

The bad news for Schalke is that Chelsea’s form has, if anything, got even better in the last fortnight. Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Newcastle was a shock simply because they have been going so well recently and having the sort of strength in depth that would embarrass two clubs means that few of those who played in that loss can be expected to start on Wednesday. Torres and Juan Mata, who has been revelling in the chance to play first team football again, were substituted at the hour mark and can be expected to feature, but pretty much every other position will be up for grabs as Jose Mourinho rotates his squad yet again.

That defeat was more than just a setback for Schalke, it meant that they handed the whip hand in this group to Chelsea. Both sides are tied on nine points, having lost a game each, but with Mourinho’s side having the better goal difference now it will be hard for the Germans to overtake them if they drop so much as a point in this game. They will be desperately hoping that Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is fit for this match, as without him they looked toothless in attack in that game. Since then, they’ve also lost at home to Borussia Dortmund and their only win came at the weekend over lowly Hertha.

That they are not a side in prime form is reflected by the market, as they are priced at  soccer odds around 9.5 to win this game. Chelsea, by contrast are 1.35 with BetVictor and that’s the best price you can get on them. Bet365 put the draw at 5.35, which is at least tempting as neither side will want that result and European football has a bit of a habit of turning up unwanted outcomes in the group stages.

If you are looking for more value in backing a Chelsea win with your soccer pick, though, then you are going to have to anticipate a bit more fight from Schalke than the market clearly does. That means betting them to hold their hosts for a half, which will get you 4.33 from BetVictor in the half time/full time market, or by taking an even bigger risk and going into the correct score market, where a 2-0 Chelsea win is as long as 8.0 at most sportsbooks.

Betting the first goalscorer market is always a risk with Chelsea, because they do rotate their players so much. You don’t want to be left with a bet on a player who isn’t in the match day eighteen, or even in the starting eleven, so either use the anytime goalscorer market or at least hold off your bet until just before kick-off.
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