THE EUROPA LEAGUE semi-finals conclude on Thursday night as Chelsea host Eintracht Frankfurt. Gaurav Chaddah (@Gchaddahjourno) shares his betting thoughts.
Chelsea v Eintracht Frankfurt | Thursday 9th May 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport
It may have seemed a long way away at one point but Maurizio Sarri has secured Chelsea’s spot back in Europe’s elite with a game to spare in the Premier League, and now aims to add the Europa League to top off a season which at one point looked to be going the wrong way.
Chelsea defeated Watford 3-0 on Sunday, whilst at the same time Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw by already-relegated Huddersfield, and later Arsenal could only manage the same scoreline at home to Brighton, guaranteeing Chelsea’s top four finish.
News on Wednesday morning emerged that Chelsea’s appeal against a two-year transfer ban will be upheld and if Sarri remains in charge this summer, he faces a tougher test than ever, as he will watch teams around him strengthen and will be going into a Champions League campaign with what could be a rather inexperienced squad, minus star player Eden Hazard.
It could be said Chelsea have one foot in the final in Baku at the end of this month after coming away from Frankfurt with a 1-1 draw, courtesy of Pedro, and that away goal could be crucial.
With Sunday’s game at Leicester now meaningless, Sarri has no reason not to play his strongest side possible and ensure his teams place in the final, and potentially his first trophy as a manager.
Sarri does have a few injuries however to contend with; Callum Hudson-Odoi is seemingly out for the season, just as the youngster was starting to become a first team regular, whilst centre back Antonio Rudiger is also missing. N’Golo Kane may be fit after a recent injury.
Chelsea have reason to be confident going into the game, still maintaining a 100% home record in this year’s competition and it’s no surprise to see they are now best priced 10/11 with Sky Bet for glory in Baku.
Frankfurt won’t go down without a fight
Frankfurt started the game last week rather well and got their reward after talisman Luka Jovic put them ahead but it was increasingly clear, that as the game went on they were becoming more fatigued and at times struggled to live with Chelsea. In the end the Germans were fairly relieved to come away with a draw.
Followers of this year’s competition will not be surprised how far the Bundesliga outfit have come in and whilst they face a difficult task here, the tie is by no means beyond them.
Frankfurt won all six of there group games and reached the semi-finals in impressive fashion, winning knockout ties against Shakhtar, Inter Milan and Benfica, all of whom joined the competition after finishing third in their Champions League groups, so clearly, they are no mugs.
Frankfurt also travel to Stamford Bridge with the confidence they can score. In fact, Eintracht have scored in all six European away games this season, and on five of those occasions have scored at least twice. Add to that, Chelsea conceded three against Slavia Prague in the last knockout tie at the Bridge and the Germans will fancy their chances.
One concern will be that Frankfurt were hammered 6-1 in the league by Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday, and alarmingly all the action happened in the first half. Adi Hutter did make several changes in preparation for this tie but there’s a school of thought that Die Adler could be running out of steam with the finishing line in sight.
The Betting Angle
Last week’s 1-1 draw and the overall game does suggest Chelsea are the better side and with their 100% home record in the competition, it’s easy to see why the bookies are so confident that Sarri’s men will come away victorious, with the Blues as short a 19/50 with Marathon.
Chelsea will most likely confirm those odds but they are too skinny to be taking. Frankfurt have notched in every single Europa League game this season, and their away record itself it rather impressive. Jovic showed last week why he is so highly regarded and it’s fair to say the Germans could notch again here, which would make the tie rather interesting.
Chelsea conceded three against Slavia here in the last round and are missing Rudiger, so the 19/20 from Sportingbet on Both Teams To Score looks a good play.
Chelsea v Eintracht Frankfurt – Both Teams To Score (19/20 Sportingbet)