Today’s free tip is in the UEFA Champions League encounter between Chelsea and Stade Rennais.
I may like what Chelsea did pre-season, and I may like what Lampard is gradually bringing to the club, but I’m not sold on the Londoners just yet. I would not get carried away by their seemingly emphatic win in Russia either. They were up against an FK Krasnodar that were without most of their best attackers, and even then the Russians did give them a good game but were punished for individual errors. They fell apart at the death, FK Krasnodar, but the display was not as compelling as the scoreline would have you believe it was.
I still think Chelsea have some distance to go before they can be trusted to be a proper force in Europe. Some teams find a bit too easy to pass their way around Chelsea, or simply to deny them possession of the ball, and it’s typically the Spanish teams that do such. However, that’s not applicable here, with Stade Rennais being from France, so let’s move cheerfully onward.
The reason I feel far too confident in Chelsea winning tonight’s game convincingly is that Stade Rennais are incapable of playing a tactical European game. They thrive on chaos; that’s the only way they impress. Without the open spaces and high lines, this team really does struggle to place teams under substantial periods of pressure. They also struggle to contain teams, given how bad they are defensively, which is worsened by the absence of Rugani tonight. Their only real hope for such games is that they take enough chances to bail themselves out but I can’t see it happening, not with Chelsea revelling in their more competent defending of late – four clean sheets in a row now!
Essentially, what I expect Chelsea to do tonight is what more experienced European teams do to them. Chelsea should control possession of the game, and should not find it too taxing to exploit the undeniable holes that exist in this Stade Rennais defence. For Ligue 1, the visitors are good enough, but for Europe, they’re sadly lacking. With Rugani joined on the sidelines by wonderkid Camavinga – amongst others – it’s hard to imagine the home team finding this game particularly problematic to win.
I do like Stade Rennais; don’t get me wrong. They’re very entertaining, and if you give them space, they’ll always score goals. It’s just that this competition has come a bit too soon for them in their long-term plans. I’m sure they won’t exactly be complaining about the extra revenue this tournament will generate for them, nor the players it’ll attract, but the actuality of being in it right now is far from ideal, especially not as the games are coming thick and fast. Stade Rennais already had injury problems to begin with, as per usual. Factor in that they don’t really have an approach that works in Europe, and you’ll see why I find their prospects in England tonight somewhat bleak.
Simply put, I expect Chelsea to control this game for large periods, and they’ve got the quality to score goals from doing such. Therefore, I’m on Chelsea to beat the -1.5 Asian Handicap at 51/50.
Chelsea to beat the -1.5 Asian Handicap at 51/50.