THE EUROPA LEAGUE Last 16 gets underway on Thursday night as Chelsea welcome Dynamo Kiev to Stamford Bridge. Gaurav Chaddah (@Gchaddahjourno) shares his betting thoughts.
Chelsea v Dynamo Kiev | Thursday 7th March 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport
The Europa League Last 16 gets underway on Thursday night as Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev travel to London to take on tournament favourites Chelsea.
The visitors have enjoyed success on the road in this year’s competition and will be hopeful of taking a workable result back to Ukraine for next week’s second leg.
Chelsea are yet to taste defeat in the Europa League under Maurizio Sarri and boast a 100% record at Stamford Bridge thus far. Sarri has come under increasing pressure over the last month but an improved display against Manchester City in the League Cup final, followed by a 2-0 victory over Spurs, appears to have bought the Italian some time – a Europa League trophy could be a job saver.
It’s been straightforward in Europe so far for the Blues, who have won every game bar one and will be confident of going deep in the competition.
Sarri has seemed to take the competition seriously, often fielding a strong side, and as a result Chelsea have been difficult to face for opponents, especially at the Bridge where they have only conceded once.
The former Napoli boss has rotated a little and used striker Olivier Giroud to great effect. The Frenchman has already six Europa League goals this term and may feature again here. Sarri may also chose to select youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi in attack after an impressive display against Malmo last time out.
Whilst it’s been a difficult period for Chelsea, they seemed to have found a little bit of form recently and the 2-0 victory over Spurs in particularly may have given them a new-found confidence, and they’ll be expecting to win this game comfortably.
Kiev find themselves travelling to the Bridge with an impressive away record so far in this year’s competition. They managed two victories out of a possible three in the group stages, defeating both Rennes and Astana, and managed a 2-2 draw against Olympiakos in the away leg of the Last 32, and therefore won’t fear a trip to the Bridge.
Dynamo also find themselves in a rich vein of form, having won their last four league games, although won’t have a full-strength side to pick from here. Slovenian Ben Verbic has three goals in the Europa League but will be missing due to suspension whilst striker Fran Sol is ruled out due to injury.
The betting angle
Dynamo’s away record in the competition is impressive but they will know they will have to up their game to beat at a Chelsea side who have won four from four at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea will be aware that if they fail to get a first leg advantage to take to Ukraine, they will be under massive pressure to get a result next week and will be keen to ensure they head to the Ukraine with a significant advantage.
That may open the game up and three of the four games in the Europa League at Stamford Bridge this season have seen Over 2.5 Goals, whilst the same stat can be applied for Dynamo on the road. I think Chelsea will get the job done and expect the trends to play ball in terms of goals – Chelsea to win and Over 2.5 Goals is a best price of 20/21 with Boylesports.
Chelsea v Dynamo Kiev – Chelsea to win and Over 2.5 Goals (20/21 Boylesports)