Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has to get results if he’s to keep his job at Stamford Bridge. Swedish side Malmo are in West London this Thursday night (kick-off: 20:00 GMT) for their Europa League last 32 second leg.
It’s unthinkable that the Blues, leading the tie 2-1 on aggregate, won’t get past these relative European football minnows here.
Having scored two away goals in Sweden last week, Chelsea are clearly in the driving seats and firm odds-on favourites both to win the second leg and progress to the last 16.
Malmo must score at least twice in order to have any chance of causing a huge upset. This in many ways is a free hit for them as they are as big as 14/1 for second leg success.
Given the visitors’ need to attack, and Chelsea showing defensive frailties in recent matches, the value bet is backing a Blues victory but both teams finding the target at 11/5 with Betfair.
Sarri-ball style can put hosts under pressure
Criticism of Sarri is at near toxic levels, but like for like substitutions when he’s losing games will do that. This match is far easier than entertaining Manchester United or playing away at Man City though.
He is asking a defensive line shaped for predecessor Antonio Conte and fashioned best in a wing back system to play as a quartet.
Chelsea seemed to unnecessarily put themselves under pressure when passing out of defence against United, and so Malmo may get some change out of the back four.
The Blues have a serious threat spearheading their Europa League attack, however, in Olivier Giroud. The France striker has scored in each of his last four matches in the competition.
As Ross Barkley also scored away in Malmo, Chelsea know they have the beating of this opposition. With clean sheets something of a novelty, they do look value to win but concede ahead of the EFL Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.
Bet of the Day: 11/5 with Betfair; Chelsea to beat Malmo and both teams to score.