Tight in Turkey

  • By: Andy Schooler
  • Last Updated: February 26 2014, 20:19 GMT

Our Andy Schooler is expecting a tight Champions League game when Galatasaray host Chelsea on Wednesday night.

Mourinho's Chelsea face Galatasaray
Mourinho's Chelsea face Galatasaray

Little has been spoken about the actual match in the build-up to Wednesday's Champions League last-16 clash between Galatasaray and Chelsea thanks to Jose Mourinho.

That's nothing new, but the difference this time is it is comments that weren't supposed to be broadcast to the world which have been making the headlines.

However, don't let the latest Mourinho-related furore distract you when it comes to placing your bets for the game in Istanbul.

The best way to go looks to be to expect a tight game with defences on top.

Keeping teams out has been both sides' strong point in recent times. Chelsea arrive having kept five clean sheets in their last seven (they also kept four in six group games before Christmas), while Gala have shut out seven of the last eight teams they have faced.

To aid Chelsea on that front, defensive shield John Obi Mikel is back in their squad, as is David Luiz. However, there is no Nemanja Matic or Mohamed Salah - both are cup-tied.

For Gala, much attention will be on Didier Drogba, who faces Chelsea for the first time since leaving Stamford Bridge, but the presence of Roberto Mancini in their dugout means more to me when it comes to betting tactics.

The Turks began this season's competition with a 6-1 home defeat to Real Madrid - a result which ushered out Fatih Terim and saw Mancini brought in, and it's no surprise to see they have tightened up since his arrival.

The Italian was criticised last season at Manchester City for not letting his flair players loose, something his successor at the Etihad certainly has done with the goals flowing there this term.

However, you know what you get with Mancini and the same can be said of Mourinho whose side have been showing how to eke out wins in recent weeks, Saturday's late victory over Everton being a case in point.

Even when cruising, Chelsea have rarely put teams to the sword this season, as was the case during Mourinho's first spell at the club.

So if we know what to expect, how can we profit?

A narrow Chelsea win is one option - they are 14/5 to win by a single goal or 13/2 for a 1-0 victory.

However, Gala have proved a tough nut to crack of late, suffering just one defeat in 19 games in all competitions. They are unbeaten in 16 at their home ground where no English side has ever won - their sole defeat on Turkish soil to an English team came against West Brom in 1978 but that game was played in Izmir.

Mourinho will know full well that Gala struggle on their travels (four wins in 17 this season) so a draw would be a perfectly acceptable result for the visitors, even if an away goal is desirable.

With that in mind, my recommendation is to back under 2.5 goals at 8/11.

That's a bet which has landed in six of Chelsea's last seven games and as already stated it's hard to see either side going hell for leather in the first leg.

I've also got a pick involving a defence for the other game of the night, one which sees Real Madrid travel to German side Schalke.

I'm surprised to see Real chalked up at 19/10 to win this match to nil given that's been the result in 12 of their last 14 matches.

Yes, the standard of opposition is stronger than much of that on offer back in Spain but Schalke are hardly pulling up trees.

They sit fourth in the Bundesliga and while they are on a decent eight-match unbeaten run, they now face one of Europe's best sides.

The Germans managed to score just six goals in their group and it is notable that they were well beaten twice without scoring by the top side in the pool - Chelsea notching 3-0 wins against them both home and away.

Real, who have Cristiano Ronaldo back from a domestic ban, have scored in 21 consecutive away games in the Champions League. They should do so again and I'm not convinced that this is the stage of the competition at which their defence will crack.

The price just looks too large and should be backed.

  • Posted at 2115 GMT on 25/02/2014.

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