UEFA's Chelsea vs Maribor Betting Preview and Prediction

Kevin Stott

Monday, October 20, 2014 6:02 PM GMT

Monday, Oct. 20, 2014 6:02 PM GMT

Chelsea welcomes Slovenia Prva League champions Maribor to West London Tuesday in a UEFA Champions League Group Stage Matchday 3 game the Blues need to stay on top of Group G. Is there a good bet here?

Odds Overview

On paper, obscure teams with names like NK Maribor always seem like automatic walkovers, especially when they play away from home in big tournaments and playing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in Matchday 3 in this UEFA Champions League Group Stage (Group G) match in West London certainly qualifies as a game that appears to be a blowout for the big-name hosts. But will that really be the case here against the defending Slovenia Prva League champions (Fox Sports 2, 2:45 p.m. ET/11:45 a.m. PT) on Tuesday? Oddsmakers have made Eden Hazard the Blues -700 favorites (bet365) against Maribor (+1400, 14/1) with the Draw priced at astronomical +700. So, if you like and want to back Chelsea here and think it can win by a decent margin, best to check out the Asian Handicap Odds for this one.

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The Total Goals soccer odds for this game have been set at 3½ (Over +100, Bwin) with the Under 3½ juiced at -138 so Blues goalkeepers Thibaut Courtois or Petr Cech and Purples goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic—a reputable 36-year-old—should see a fair number of shots on target but at a robust 3½, the lean has to be to the Under—this isn’t a Real Madrid game afterall. The prop wager Chelsea To Win To Nil is priced at an interesting and fair -137 (bet365) and is definitely worth a look with either the young Courtois or the veteran Cech in goal for the Blues. And another interesting prop for those who may think Chelsea may be able to put some goals up despite its apparent striker injury problems (Diego Costa, Didier Drogba) is the Exact Total Goals 4-6 +114 (BetVictor) prop which provides a nice possibility range if the game falls on 4, 5 or 6 goals. There’s always something precise to bet on these days.

 

NK Maribor
NK Maribor is known as a symbol of Slovenian soccer and the way coach Ante Šimundža and the Purples—who have never been relegated from Slovenia’s top flight of soccer—have played so far in their first two matches in this Group Stage—a 1-1 Matchday draw at Sporting Lisbon (on an added-time header) followed by a 1-1 Matchday 2 draw against FC Schalke at home in Maribor—simply means that an upset here at SW6 would be the biggest win in the club’s history and potentially put Maribor (0-2-0, 2 points 2 GF-2 GA, 0 GD) on top of the group and in a position to possibly advance to the Knockout Stage. Nothing big. And that’s precisely what Maribor will be thinking heading in despite what pundits and gamblers and others may think. The Purples will think that they can win and will win this one and their DWWDDWDD form status in Champions League play over the last 8 games reveals a glimpse at a team that just doesn’t like the ‘L’...thus their presence in the prestigious Champions League. Maribor deserves to be here.

Injury-wise, the Purples will be without defender Petar Stojanovic while midfielder Welle N'Diaye is listed as Doubtful by the Champions League website. Midfielder Damjan Bohar (+475, Anytime Goalscorer, BetVictor) and striker Luka Zahovic (+380) have Maribor’s two goals so far in this stage while Handanovic has been extremely solid in goal. Maribor will need players like Jean-Philippe Mendy (+390), striker Marcos Tavares (+380; 119 lifetime goals), midfielders Agim Ibraimi (+333) and the versatile Aleš Mertelj (+900) to be able to provide to be some kind of threat on the attack and possibly get a goal or two (if the stars align) at Stamford Bridge in order to try to shock the (soccer) world.

 

Chelsea FC
The striker injury storyline will get a lot of play and it does matter from a betting standpoint here, and always, if Diego Costa is playing or is healthy enough to play but Chelsea manager José Mário dos Santos Mourinho usually often has no intent to leak out the health status of his key cogs and it often seems like The Special One takes a certain pleasure in snubbing and/or surprising the media and his critics. In other words, Costa starting or coming in—or Drogba for that matter—would probably surprise nobody in this galaxy. Mourinho said after Saturday’s 2-1 English Premier League win over Crystal Palace that he would pretty much go with the same team here against Maribor, so Loïc Rémy may be the man up top in the Blues 4-2-3-1 tactical formation. Two guys Chelsea will be without against the Purples are midfielders Ramires and André Schürrle.

As far as handicapping the Anytime Goalscorers market from the EPL leaders point of view, club legend Drogba (-181, BetVictor)—the second-leading odds favorite out of all scorers—is overpriced by at least a dollar as the Ivorian striker’s age, current health (ankle) and track record of scoring lately (0 goals) all have to be put under the microscope when pondering a line like that one (-181). But on the other hand, the top favorite (-225) in this prop wager category—Loïc Rémy—is a very logical Anytime Goalscorer soccer pick despite the fairly high odds for being a new player on Chelsea. Following, in odds order are: Eden Hazard (+105), Cesc Fàbregas (+140), Oscar (+140)—who connected on a nice FK for the Blues first goal against Palace on Saturday—Mohamed Salah (+250), Willian (+280) and defenders Branislav Ivanovic (+333), Gary Cahill (+365), John Terry (+475) and Nemanja Matic (+475).

 

Best Betting Approach
Warning Chelsea fans: This won’t be as easy as it looks. But betting on a live 14/1 under against José Mourinho and a red-hot Blues team at home in Europe’s biggest tournament? No thank you. But please pass the lima beans, bubba. Maribor has lost just one time in its last 7 European Away matches and is unbeaten in its last 8 in all competitions and with GK Handanovic, Tavares, Mertelj and Zahovic—the 18-year-old son of Slovenia’s all-time scoring leaders Zlatko Zahovic—this team could shock Group G and move on and the Purples will try to play the game of their absolute lives on the world’s stage in Londontown on Tuesday. But Maribor is 0-0-3 on English soil and although Chelsea is hosting a Slovenian side for the first time ever in a European competition and may be without the services of its biggest scoring threat (Costa), the Blues defense has been absolutely superb of late—allowing just 1 goal or less in their last 7 games—and the hosts should be able to create about 10-12 quality shots on target while holding Maribor to between 2 and 4. And a match like this is an ideal one for the likes of an Oscar or a Salah or an Ivanovic or a Matic to step up and again show how deep this Chelsea team has quickly become and that it can win and score without Costa if need be.

 

PREDICTION: Chelsea 2 Maribor 0

FREE PICK: Chelsea To Win To Nil -137 (bet365)

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