Chelsea are back in European action on Thursday night, as they clash with BATE Borisov at Stamford Bridge. The Blues are looking to wrap up Group L as quickly as possible, with Maurizio Sarri admitting that he wants this group stage campaign over and done with as quickly as possible. The Blues are on the verge of the next round, and two wins from their next two clashes would put them well on the way.
Sarri’s side meet BATE home and away in a crucial double header in their next two European outings, and that could send them into the next round. After two wins from two, the Premier League side are sitting clear at the top of the group, and they are in total control of their fate from here. Can they bounce back from a dramatic league encounter with Manchester United to wrap up a win on Thursday and move towards the next round?
Team News: Sarri Set for Changes Again
Once again, it’s hard to see Chelsea sticking with their strongest side in the Europa League. So far we’ve seen Sarri shake things up for European games, with the Premier League the clear main focus. While there haven’t been wholesale changes for their European clashes, Sarri has left Eden Hazard out of the starting line-up on both occasions so far, with the Belgian thriving in the league. Just six players have made two starts in the competition so far, including record signing Kepa. His countryman Alvaro Morata has also started both clashes, scoring the winner against MOL Vidi last time out. He’s likely to get another chance up front here, as he looks to boost his poor form against a lower class of opponent.
Andreas Christensen is one who has been in the news lately, and the Danish defender is rumoured to be looking for a switch away. He’s started both European clashes so far, and he should get another chance to impress in this one. Ross Barkley should be pushing for a starting place after scoring as a substitute at the weekend, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek could also be in contention. The midfielder hasn’t been given much of a chance by Sarri this season but he should get a starting role on Thursday night.
BATE have switched things up for their games so far, as they started with a 4-3-3 system in their visit to MOL Vidi in their opener. However, they made a change for the visit of PAOK in the last clash, which they ended up losing 4-1. They went a little more defensive in that game but we could see them get even more rigid for this encounter on Thursday. Having switched back to a 4-5-1, we could even see a five-man defence from the Belarusian side here, as they look to frustrate the Blues.
The visitors continue to dominate in Belarus, and they’re nine points clear at the top of the table after 24 games. After a weekend victory, they’re closing in on the title, and they have just six games left in their domestic campaign. While seeing out the title race is obviously going to be a big goal for BATE, they will be aiming to go on a run in Europe. They have already been eliminated from the Champions League this term, so coming up short in this group would be a blow.
BATE were eliminated by PSV in the Champions League, after putting out HJK and Qarabag. The visitors then went straight into the hat for the Europa League group stage, and so far they have three points from two matches. Last season they also crashed out at this stage, coming up short against Arsenal home and away.
- Chelsea to win to nil – 7/10 with BetVictor
- Under 2.5 Goals – 13/8 with bet365
The Blues are heavy favourites to claim the points in this clash, with Coral pricing them at 2/15 to win this one. They have been heavily backed across the board for the win, while the visitors can be found as big as 28/1 with Betfair to secure the points. The draw is priced at odds of 7/1 with Ladbrokes, with the Blues having two very close encounters in their opening two matches in Europe this season. Will they find things any easier against BATE, or could this be yet another long night for the Chelsea faithful?
The Blues have claimed back to back wins to nil in this group so far, and with the latest betting odds in mind we can’t see an open game here. The visitors are likely to come here aiming to defend deep, and they will be hoping to be the first side to successfully grind out a 0-0 draw in this group against the Blues, given how the last two matches went. While we see Sarri making changes to the defence, he has enough depth for his side to hold out at the back again here. We’re going with a home win to nil on Thursday, which can be found at 7/10 with BetVictor.
However, the Blues have had issues when it comes to getting forward in this competition. Both of their clashes so far have been 1-0 wins, each of which have been hard fought games. They come into this one aiming to claim another three points, but with BATE set to defend deep we could see another battle of attack against defence. Sarri isn’t likely to start with his strongest men going forward, so we could see another game low on goals. As a result, we’re tipping this to be a duller affair than the bookies expect, as you can get 13/8 with bet365 on under 2.5 goals in this clash. We’re also quite tempted by another 1-0 home victory for the Blues, which can be backed at 7/1 with Betfred.