Chelsea v Athletico Madrid: 30th April 2014
Chelsea v Athletico Madrid tonight in the European Champions League semi-final 2nd leg. We’ve got a full review, plus a mega offer of 3/1 on Chelsea to qualify…..
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John Terry, Eden Hazard, Samuel Eto’o and Petr Cech were all able to train on Tuesday ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid.
It had been thought that Cech’s season was over after he injured his shoulder during last week’s goalless semi-final first-leg encounter in the Spanish capital.
Veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer came on as a first-half substitute for Cech in Madrid before producing another solid performance in Sunday’s 2-0 victory at Liverpool.
However, when asked on Tuesday whether he was fit, the Czech keeper responded: “Of course.”, we doubt he’ll make it though.
Meanwhile, Blues boss Jose Mourinho had said last week that the only match Terry would be able to play in this season would be the Champions League final if his side reached it, but the defender was also able to take part in training at Cobham on Tuesday.
Terry injured his ankle in the 0-0 draw with Atletico and sat out Sunday’s victory at Anfield.
Hazard has been sidelined recently with a calf injury while Eto’o has had a knee problem but both men could feature in Wednesday’s second leg at Stamford Bridge which Chelsea can be backed at 5/1 to win 1-0.
Four Chelsea players that will definitely not be involved in the second leg are Frank Lampard and John Mikel Obi – who are suspended – and Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah – who are ineligible.
Since the Champions League changed format a decade ago, four out of 22 semi-final first legs have finished goalless. Among those four, this is the third that involves Jose Mourinho. The experience of playing the second leg at home is new to him, however.
Going all the way back to the first two-legged Champions League ties in 1994/95, there have been 25 goalless first legs. The team at home for the second leg is W15-D6-L4 in those games. Along with their own record this season of winning 9/9 at home to the Premier League’s current top 10, that’s the good news for Chelsea.
The bad news is that Petr Cech, Nemanja Matic and Frank Lampard are ruled out, just like John Obi Mikel and Mohamed Salah, whose absences are less likely to send shockwaves through the market. At the time of writing, John Terry apparently has a good chance of starting.
Diego Simeone must do without suspended midfielder Gabi, but Atletico Madrid will otherwise be at full strength. The Spanish raiders arrive as the Champions League’s last remaining unbeaten team and with their domestic winning streak at nine. This season, they are W6-D1-L0 visiting sides now in La Liga’s top 10.
After goalless first legs, second-leg hosts have won 17/25 Champions League ties and the draw is on the side of the visitors, who will go forward to the final with any sort of score draw.
Perhaps Mourinho will be happy to take his chances with extra-time after another 0-0, but if Chelsea decide – or are forced – to chase a goal at any point, they will be vulnerable to Atletico’s pinpoint counter-offensives.
Simeone’s men are top of the La Liga table that counts, but rank the Primera Division by possession and you will find them languishing in eighth (WhoScored.com), having claimed less possession this season than their opponents.
With a strong defence that transitions easily into fast counter-attack, Atletico are set up to do well away from home. They look better suited than most to capitalising on a goalless first leg and this is a rare occasion where we’re prepared to go against the stats.
Thirteen of the 25 Champions League ties that stayed goalless through their first 90 minutes went Over 2.5 Goals in the return leg, although neither of those Mourinho semi-finals did.
Prices as skewed as 1.59 for Under 2.5 Goals and the more interesting 2.66 for Over 2.5 Goals make this a market worth dabbling in.
But you might want to grapple with it in-play, just to make sure that no one (Mourinho, say) is playing for penalties from the get-go.
We’ve mentioned Atletico’s propensity to draw the first halves of away games before (28/48 under Simeone in La Liga).
Neither coach will be desperate enough to risk much before half-time on Wednesday night.
These are two good defences – even if Chelsea’s is a little depleted – and odds-against prices about a half-time draw should be snapped up.
Courageous punters might even chance the 2.6 about a goalless first half.
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