THE EUROPA LEAGUE group-stage concludes on Thursday night as Chelsea travel to Hungary to face Vidi. Gaurav Chaddah (@Gchaddahjourno) shares his betting thoughts.
Vidi v Chelsea | Thursday 13th December 2018, 17:55 | BT Sport
Chelsea conclude their Europa League campaign on Thursday night with a trip to Hungarian side Vidi. The Blues have maximum points in the competition so far and have already guaranteed top spot in the pool.
The hosts are still in with a chance of reaching the Last 32, sitting in third with six points. Vidi’s 2-0 defeat to Bate last time out however means they must better the result of the Belarus outfit to progress as an inferior better head-to-head record.
It’s a huge game for the hosts but Chelsea have been hard to beat in the competition, and whilst changes will be made, the Blues will still be strong.
The two teams met at Stamford Bridge back in October, an evening in which Chelsea were frustrated by the Hungarians, who went down to a 70th minute goal from Alvaro Morata.
Vidi still fighting
Vidi began their Europa League campaign poorly, losing their opening game at home to BATE, before going down to Chelsea 1-0.
Since then however they have revitalised their campaign, beating PAOK home and away to climb back up the table ahead of another crucial defeat at BATE last time out.
Vidi will know it’ll be a difficult game but will take heart from the fact they made Chelsea work hard last time, keeping them out for more than hour and squandering several chances to equalise. Even so, they aren’t in great form at the Puskas Akademia Pancho Arena, losing three of their past seven here.
Blues on course for perfect six
Chelsea began the competition as favourites to lift the trophy and so far, you would say Maurizio Sarri’s men have done enough to warrant bookmakers’ confidence.
The West London club have won all five games, with Sarri using the early games to get points on the board, often refusing to rotate his side. The last two matchdays however has seen more of the squad used and to success, particularly with Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ethan Ampadu, all of whom are expected to start on Thursday evening.
Sarri’s men will be on a high from a brilliant victory over Manchester City at the weekend and whilst big players such as Eden Hazard are expected to miss out, a 1-0 win in Bate and the 4-0 hammering of PAOK would suggest the young Blues are up to the task.
Don’t expect a blockbuster
Whilst Chelsea have comfortably been the strongest side in the group, it’s fair to say they haven’t exactly dominated it as some may expect.
In the five wins so far, Sarri’s men have been victorious by a 1-0 scoreline on three occasions, and although they scored four against PAOK last time, the Greeks spent the majority of the game with 10 men. Both away days yielded a 1-0 scoreline.
Vidi likewise often don’t take part in too many thrillers – all five fixtures have featured Under 2.5 Goals and not once have both teams scored. That combined with Chelsea winning both away games by a 1-0 scoreline would suggest we could be in for a slow-burner.
Chelsea to get over the line
Whilst this is very much a dead-rubber for Chelsea, I think the Blues should have enough to get the job done and complete a sixth win the group. We have already seen how good some of the young guns are in the ranks and the hunger to break into the Premier League team will be enough motivation for them.
I’m happy to follow the patterns of both teams so far and therefore I can’t see many goals. Whilst Under 2.5 Goals has been a winner for all of Vidi’s home games, the pressure on them to win may open them up a little and I’m happy to have a bit more of safety net, by backing Chelsea to win and Under 3.5 Goals at 7/5 with Boylesports.
Vidi v Chelsea – Chelsea to win and Under 3.5 Goals (7/5 Boylesports)