by Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)
FC Porto vs Chelsea F.C.
Spread: Chelsea (-0.5); O/U: 2.5
Moneyline: Porto +320, Chelsea -115, Draw +280
Time/Location: 3:00 ET, Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, Seville, Spain
Porto (WWWLW); 2nd in Primeira Liga
Were it not for what might go down as the greatest season ever for a Portuguese team, Porto would probably be topping the Primeira Liga and instilling fear into the rest of the teams left on the continent. However, a run at Invincibility and a 2-0 front leg with Chelsea have the storied club reeling. The team will surely need a miracle to win silverware this season and unfortunately, it doesn’t seem likely to occur. Diogo Costa’s absence won’t help, but for the most part the squad is mostly healthy, meaning that they’re just being beaten by a better team. While the circumstances are likely acceptable in this moment, the board and fans will certainly be expecting a trophy in the near future.
Unfortunately I don’t see a comeback in the cards for Porto. Could the team come back and score three goals against an inconsistent Chelsea team on a neutral pitch with less miles traveled? Of course they could, but I don’t think Marega, Otávio, or Corona will be able to pierce the Blues’ back line with enough consistency to win. It’s almost mandatory that Pepe, Marche, and Mbemba play perfect football in this final leg, akin to what they did against Juventus in Turin, but again, that seems exceedingly unlikely considering what Chelsea were able to do to them in the first leg. This isn’t the most spry team anymore and Chelsea’s athletes will be looking to exploit that with their younger legs and pure class going forward.
Chelsea (WWLWW); 5th in Premier League
Don’t let the standings in the Premier League fool you, or the record against West Brom for that matter, Chelsea is a very good team and have become even better after the sacking of Frank Lampard. Thomas Tuchel has transformed Chelsea into a defensive powerhouse (again, West Brom aside) that dominates possession and the will of opponents with consistency. Players like Antonio Rüdiger and Kepa have refound their spot in the team to an extent and the results are proving to be fruitful. The 3-4-2-1 is paying off well and despite having a wealth of talent to choose from, a regular 11 seems to have been settled on, and it’s noticeably barren of 2020 summer transfer players. While the top price tags may not be making the grade, the top performers are.
I can’t imagine there will be much change from the regular lineup in this match, though there may be a defensive inclination considering the circumstances. Up 2-0 on a team with firepower on a neutral pitch isn’t the most comfortable of situations, so a touch of rotation is possible. I like Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount to play a big role thanks to their ability to pester with pressure, but the back seven will be where the bigger impact is had. I’m not sure exactly what to expect, but too much change probably isn’t on the table considering how well Tuchel’s strategy has worked.
Analysis and Pick
I actually like a couple of picks from this game, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum to avoid too much loss. I really like where the total is set in this game. I was half expecting it to be at 2 but sitting a half goal higher leaves some space to breathe and some money to be made. Porto are going to be pressuring all game but without a big change in style or a collapse on field, I can’t see them scoring a goal, and certainly not more than one. On the other hand, Chelsea will likely try to sit back and conserve, especially with a massive FA Cup tie with City on the horizon. Take the under 2.5 goals and run with it. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see a goalless draw from this match.