THE EUROPA LEAGUE semi-finals get underway on Thursday night as Chelsea travel to Eintracht Frankfurt. Gaurav Chaddah (@Gchaddahjourno) shares his betting thoughts.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Chelsea | Thursday 2nd May 2019, 20:00 | BT Sport
It’s been a rather up and down first season for Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, who has had to face fan backlash and public player rows. But as the season comes close to a conclusion, the Blues boss is on course for a top-four finish and are bookmakers’ favourites to triumph in the Europa League, not to mention picking up a silver medal in the League Cup.
Chelsea come into Thursday night’s game after a 1-1 draw at Manchester United on Sunday, a match that pushed the capital club ever closer to bringing back Champions League football to Stamford Bridge next season.
Sarri’s men are yet to lose a single game in the Europa League this season and only a 2-2 draw away at Vidi on the final matchday of the group stages means Chelsea arrive at the final-four without a 100% record in the competition.
The Italian coach has often rotated his squad through the competition but as Chelsea have progressed, Sarri has taken things more seriously with stars such as Eden Hazard featuring more regularly as the tournament wears on.
Balance will be a key act now for the Chelsea boss, who will also have Sunday’s game against Watford in mind and won’t want to put all his eggs all in the Europa League basket. However, he’ll know a trophy to end this first season at Chelsea would go down very well and also confirm Champions League football regardless.
Dark horses have impressed
Out of the four remaining teams in the competition, Eintracht Frankfurt are the least fancied by the bookies to go all the way, with Betway making them a 6/1 chance to lift the trophy in Baku at the end of this month.
Frankfurt beat Benfica in the quarter-finals to progress and were on the end of a 4-2 away defeat in the first leg before winning 2-0 in Germany to book a semi-final spot.
It’s the German sides home form that has been so impressive in the competition. The Eagles were impressive during the group stages, winning all six games, with scalps including Lazio and Marseille. Before they overturned a deficit to Benfica, they overcame Shakhtar Donetsk – drawing 2-2 away before a 4-1 hammering at home, and edged out Inter Milan.
Frankfurt generally are a difficult side to beat at home, having lost only one of there last 12 games as hosts in all competitions and their attack will be led by the impressive Luka Jovic, who already has eight goals in the competition and has attracted interest from major European clubs.
The betting angle
This is certainly a bigger test than any Chelsea have faced in the Europa League this season and the betting would reflect that. Even when away, the Blues are often a short price to win but, on this occasion, Bet365 make the visitors 17/10 for victory, showing the task they have.
Frankfurt will be a different proposition for Sarri’s side, whose away form in this competition has been good, but hasn’t convinced domestically and they could get found out here.
Chelsea edged out Sparta Prague late on last time through a Marcos Alonso header and were hardly convincing when 2-1 winners in Malmo too. The anomaly is a 5-0 hammering of Dynamo Kiev, the Blues’ most impressive performance in the competition.
Frankfurt, like Chelsea, are unbeaten in the competition and have won all bar one game at home, which was a draw to Inter. But they will fancy a major English scalp and home advantage could play a crucial part; with Marathon going 183/100, I’m going to support the Eagles for first leg victory.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Chelsea – Eintracht Frankfurt to win (183/100 Marathon)