Chelsea has always found a way of making it out of the group stage, despite the fact that their champions league campaign started relatively slow. This year makes no exception, because the English side had to settle for a draw in the opening match and they are now traveling to Portugal. This is where they will play against a defensive minded team, fully aware of the fact that the visitors are favorites to win.
Sporting Lisbon is equally frustrated by its start as the team had to settle for one point on the road against the weakest team in the group. Maribor made its debut in the Champions League and they obviously lack the experience needed to make a deep run in this competition. Their low expectations were obvious as the hosts defended with all lines for 90 minutes and succeeded in stripping the Portuguese of points.
Tonight things will be quite different, because Sporting Lisbon is going to be the team to defend and the fact that they have home pitch advantage won’t matter much. They have real problems in scoring regardless of where the game is played and only two quality strikers to rely upon. Their roster includes 8 forwards but only Slimani and Carrillo are meeting expectations, with the two strikers scoring a combined five goals so far.
They are the ones that the Portuguese expect to create scoring opportunities, but the trick is to make the most of those few they get. Chelsea does many things great and defending is just one of them, with Mourinho being one of the most pragmatic managers. Now that he also has Diego Costa in his starting formation, the Portuguese coach is going to shift into more aggressive gear and try to win a couple of points against the team he admired as a kid.
The Spanish striker is firing on all cylinders and has scored eight goals already in only six games, so he will be a real threat for the home side. It will come as no surprise if Sporting Lisbon would assign two defenders to guard him at all times, even though this might leave other players free to push forward. In a nutshell, this game is probably going to result in yet another draw, which would keep both teams in the race with real chances. For punters, the prospect of increasing their investment four times by betting straight on the draw is alluring and it is worth a chance at medium stakes.