Soccer Picks: Galatasaray vs. Chelsea in Champions League

Nila Amerova

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 3:40 PM GMT

Galatasaray host Chelsea in the first leg of R16 Champions League. Find out what odds are currently trading and where the value is to be had.

Galatasaray at the disadvantage

Galatasaray go into the first leg of their tie with Chelsea in the knockout stages of Champions League at the disadvantage, listed at +333 at Bet365. But Galatasaray have done well in Europe, better than the odds makers expected in fact by advancing into the knockout rounds against the odds, which begs the question: are they being dismissed prematurely?

Galatasaray were in complete and utter disarray at the start of the group stage following a 6-1 disembowelling by Real Madrid. So desperate their predicament that survival dangled on a sliver of hope in Europe’s top flight according to sportsbooks; especially given the quality of their main rivals Real Madrid and Juventus for the top two spots and the brash dismissal of Fatih Terim just before match day 2 in Turin.

But in a blink Galatasaray replaced Terim with Roberto Mancini (formerly of Manchester City), right before their second match in Turin, and any misgivings that may have permeated through soccer betting markets all of a sudden seemed premature. Mancini set about righting the ship immediately by orchestrating Galatasaray’s unexpected 2-2 draw in Turin, a positive result they went on to back up with a home victory over the Italian favourites on match day six in order to finish second in Group B with a 2-1-3 record. 

Galatasaray’s performances on the continent haven’t been perfect at all but they did what they needed to in order to qualify for the knockout stages. What’s more, drawing Chelsea in the R16 could actually prove to be a stroke of luck as – let’s face it – Chelsea’s performances on the continent weren’t above reproach either, throwing into question their rather favourable soccer odds of -105 to win the first leg in Istanbul.

Chelsea hot favourites

Chelsea finished top of Group E but not without picking some bumps and bruises along the way. They went 4-0-2 in group action with both defeats coming to FC Basel (home and away), both of which shocked avid soccer-betting fans and rocked the sports betting world.

Of course that was then and this is now, a whole new ball game in the knockout stages. A tabula rasa, if you will. What’s more, a lot has changed for Chelsea since the group stage culminated, namely in becoming the Premier League leaders in the last few weeks.

Chelsea sit atop the league with an 18-6-3 record and 60 points through 27 laps. Although it’s only a point edge over previous leaders Arsenal, entering the knockout stages as the current domestic leaders points to form and pedigree, not to mention confidence as well.

Chelsea are considered England’s best hope for the coveted title right now but they are sixth in the overall pecking order behind top favourites and defending champions Bayern Munich at +188 at Bet365 and top Spanish triplet and PSG as well. If the Blues, listed at + 1400 to win the Champions League, do accomplish the feat however it would mark their third straight European title and see Jose Mourinho have the last laugh after all. (They won the UEFA Champions League title in the 2011-2012 season. Then they followed up with a UEFA Europe title in the 2012-2013 season.)

Soccer Betting Verdict: Despite the rather lopsided market on the first leg between Galatasaray and Chelsea, this isn’t going to be a straightforward clash. On the contrary, it could prove to be the opposite with Chelsea having all to do to win in Istanbul. Galatasaray boast a 17-match unbeaten streak at home (across all competitions) since the 6-1 defeat to Real Madrid. It’s also worth noting that they are enjoying six straight clean sheets ahead of their date with Chelsea as well. That’s impressive form that sportsbooks refuse to take stock of at all. But just because they don’t doesn’t mean we can’t.

And so we will. Galatasaray will be no pushovers if they can maintain their current form against Chelsea, and with that in mind we are prompted to consider either the home win by Galatasaray at hefty +333 soccer odds or the draw at +250 as the smart soccer pick for this match. The more we think on it the more we like both scenarios. This doesn’t mean that Chelsea won’t win the tie (though they can’t take anything for granted) rather that Galatasaray will give them a run for their money is all.

Soccer Free Picks: Draw at +250