Mourinho wants goals, but Chelsea will have to wait to breach Steaua
Chelsea’s defending may have proved their Achilles heel in recent weeks, but it is troubles at the other end of the pitch that could lead to the biting of some fingernails for the majority of their Champions League clash with Steaua Bucharest.
Jose Mourinho’s team have already qualified for the knockout rounds of the Champions League, but require a victory to confirm their spot as winners of Group E, which could be important in avoiding the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the last 16.
However, Chelsea’s odds of 1/5 to beat Steaua at Stamford Bridge is not the most attractive, even though they won 4-0 in the corresponding fixture in Romania.
Steaua may already be assured of finishing at the foot of the group, but it would be foolish to assume that they are arriving just to fulfil fixture obligations, as fairly hefty prize money is available for winning a Champions League game.
The chances of Steaua securing victory though, which is priced at 16/1, is not aided by the absence of Alexandru Bourceanu, who is not only the club’s captain, but arguably their best player and top tackler in the competition this season.
This may diminish Steaua’s chances of victory, but it is unlikely to prevent them making life extremely difficult for Chelsea, especially in the opening 45 minutes.
The first meeting with Chelsea is still the only one of Steaua’s five Champions League group-stage outings in which they have conceded in the first half.
Steaua have also kept first-half clean sheets in each of their last four games in all competitions.
Chelsea are hardly at their most prolific in the opening period either, as the first half as not been their highest scoring in any of their last five fixtures in all competitions.
Therefore, the 27/10 available on the correct score being 0-0 at half time appears to be worthy of some investment.
But, with Chelsea expected to make their class tell eventually, preference is for the slightly superior price of 3/1 that the game is level at the break, but the Blues are ahead by the final whistle.
Chelsea may have conceded six goals across their last two games, but Mourinho has chosen to focus on his team needing to score more goals ahead of the meeting with Steaua.
The boss has suggested a couple of changes for the game, with Ramires a likely candidate for a rest, after playing the full 90 minutes in each of Chelsea’s last eight outings in all competitions.
This suggests Frank Lampard will start after coming on after 70 minutes in the latest defeat at Stoke.
Lampard has three goals in his last three Chelsea starts and can be backed at 2/1 to score in the 90 minutes and 7/1 to break the deadlock.
Kevin De Bruyne is another possible starter, having made his last two Chelsea appearances in the competition. He is 5/1 to score at some point against Steaua.