Costa chasing consistent Champions League final appearances
It is now or never for Jose Mourinho. The trophy that he craves the most has every chance of being paraded down the Kings Road next summer.
Chelsea are an industry leading price of 7/1 with Coral to win the Champions League this term, and star centre forward signing Diego Costa is in contention to start, after being forced off in last season’s final for former club Atletico Madrid.
A hamstring injury, despite unorthodox horse placenta treatment, mean the Brazilian-born Spain striker last just a few minutes in that match before limping off. Atleti’s city rivals Real Madrid went on to lift the European Cup, winning 4-1 after extra time.
Costa will be on the same page as Mourinho, with the latter seeking to prove a point, and the former no doubt keen to make up for that personal disappointment disappointment.
At home against Schalke in their first Champions League match of the season, Chelsea are odds-on at 1/3, with Costa 9/2 to net two goals or more (max stake £20), after hitting a hat-trick against Swansea. There are many that have drawn comparisons to Blues legend Didier Drogba, who Mourinho brought back to the club this summer, though the Ivorian is a doubt with ankle problem despite returning to training.
Costa is enjoying life in West London, after scoring seven goals in four fixtures in the Premier League. “It is different for every striker who comes here,” he said. “Every striker has their way of playing and their strengths and a different team behind them. That is very important.
“If you do not have the team behind you then you can’t do things on your own. It all depends on the team. It could be because of that.
Schalke, however, have a crisis at centre back, with Felipe Santana, Joel Matip and captain Benedikt Howedes all ruled out. Manager Jens Keller could be forced into playing the inexperienced Jan Kirchoff, on loan from Bayern Munich, and 18-year-old Marvin Friedrich, so Costa could run riot.
The two clubs played each other in last season’s group stage, with Mourinho’s men winning 3-0 home and away. Coral offer odds of 7/1 for the same scoreline; Schalke are yet to win in the Bundesliga and are currently embedded in the bottom three.
Julian Draxler could be their main goal threat and is 11/2 to score anytime, though Eric Choupo-Moting scored the solitary goal in their 4-1 defeat away to Borussia Monchengladbach last time out, and is 11/4 to net in the same market.
Cesc Fabregas has been one of the Blues’ best players this season so far, and his link-up play with Costa has been arguably the standout features of their performances. He is 6/1 to open the scoring.