Blues face waiting game
Chelsea may have to be patient when Galatasaray arrive at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League on Tuesday, says Andy Schooler.
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Chelsea may have slipped up in the Premier League title race at the weekend but it's hard to envisage a repeat when they return to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
The Blues host Galatasaray in the second leg of a Champions League last-16 tie which currently stands at 1-1.
As we pointed out in our preview of the first leg, a score draw in Istanbul was always going to be an acceptable result for Chelsea, particularly given Gala's miserable away record.
They've won just four of 19 games on their travels this season with away draws against mid-table Kardemir Karabukspor and relegation-threatened Rizespor since the first leg.
Sadly for them, in all likelihood they are going to need to win this game if they are to progress to the quarter-finals. And they've never won in England before either.
Chelsea's home record in Europe hardly gives them reason for optimism.
In their last 12 home Champions League games, the Blues have won 10 and drawn one, their sole defeat coming earlier this season against Basel. The wins include victories over Barcelona, Napoli and Benfica.
That Basel loss was certainly a shock but it's hard to see it happening again here.
Galatasaray have not kept a clean sheet in their last 16 away games in the Champions League which means they are likely to need to score twice but Chelsea's defence has been their strong point of late and we won't be getting giddy about Didier Drogba's return - he was dealt with fairly comfortably in the first leg, one Chelsea probably should have won after starting strongly only to fade.
Gala boss Roberto Mancini got his tactics badly wrong in that first game, a high defensive line leaving them totally exposed in the early stages. At least he had the nous to spot the error of his ways, making a tactical substitution after just half an hour and you would not expect him to make the same mistake twice.
Keeping Chelsea quiet early on will be crucial to Gala's hopes and with this in mind the best way to approach the game from a betting perspective may be to head to the half time/full time market.
Here Draw-Chelsea can be backed at 7/2.
With Chelsea having managed just one first-half goal in their last six matches, it's something which has occurred in three of their last five games.
As pointed out before on these pages, they've hardly been a brutal attacking force this season with their misfiring strikers having had plenty written about them and this seems like a fairly decent bet to me.
Samuel Eto'o is likely to be fit for this one, which will at least give Jose Mourinho options up front, while the domestic suspensions which await Ramires and Willian following Saturday's woe at Aston Villa don't apply here.
Gala's need to keep things tight and Chelsea's recent confidence dent means the Blues may have to be patient but expect their class to tell in the end.
The night's other game is effectively a dead rubber with Real Madrid carrying a 6-1 lead into their home leg against Schalke.
Team changes aplenty can be expected, especially given Real face a crunch domestic clash with Barcelona at the weekend.
Real were utterly dominant in the first leg, one which saw our 'win to nil' bet denied by a wonder strike in injury time.
Carlo Ancelotti has already announced that Cristiano Ronaldo will play in this game, even though that seems highly unnecessary.
He's just 1/2 to net at any time but those seeking a bigger price should note the Italian boss has also said that both youngster Jese and Alvaro Morata will also start up front.
The latter pair can be backed at 6/5 and 6/4 respectively in the any time market, while midfielder Isco, also promised a start, is 2/1.
There's every chance those prices could be looking big come the final whistle but the problem is how much desire will there be to bust a gut and run up a cricket score again, particularly with that Barca game looming?