Chelsea v Steaua Bucharest: Mata to make it Juan nil

The smile has returned to Juan Mata's face of late
The smile has returned to Juan Mata's face of late

It's the final group games of the Champions League this week and Paul Robinson is predicting an easy victory for Chelsea that will seal them top spot in Group E...

"It hasn’t been easy to predict Jose Mournho’s line ups this season but Juan Mata has started their last three games and they’ve scored nine goals."

Back Juan Mata to score first @ 7.06/1  

Chelsea v Steaua Bucharest  
Wednesday December 11, 19.45 GMT
Live on Sky Sports 3

Jose Mourinho may have been playing mind games when declaring that his team were now out of the title race after their defeat at Stoke on Saturday but there are some genuine concerns about how they're playing this season.

Their Champions League campaign is a prime example as three successive victories to nil was bookended by two abject displays against Basel that saw them lose 2-1 at Stamford Bridge and then 1-0 in Switzerland - the latter without even having a shot on target.

Nevertheless, due to the inconsistencies of their opponents, Chelsea have qualified for the knockout phase and likely need just a single point to go through as group winners.

There has been plenty of criticism of The Blues' strikeforce this year and while they haven't exactly been firing on all cylinders, scoring goals hasn't been an issue for the 2012 Champions of Europe.

It's actually been at the back where the problems have been recently as they've shipped seven goals in their last three in the league. Ashley Cole has been left on the bench and the other defenders have seemingly 'lost the plot' -  especially from set pieces. It will be interesting to see who gets the nod in defence this evening but whoever is selected will be desperate to keep a clean sheet.

Steaua began Group E with a pair of heavy defeats which all but ended their qualification bid before it really started. They have 'stopped the bleeding' since though as they've drawn their next three - home and away against Basel, and then against Schalke in Romania last time.

It's hard to get away from the fact that Helmuth Duckadam's men were swept aside so easily by Chelsea at Ghencea back in October though - in a match that saw Brazilian midfielder Ramires net his first ever Champions League brace. 

'The Red and Blues' don't even come into this fixture with great domestic form as they've drawn their last four in the league and their only win since the end of October was in the Cup against strugglers Oţelul Galaţi.

Match Odds  
Chelsea 1.211/5 Steaua Bucharest 19.018/1 The Draw 7.87/1

I don't envisage anything other than a home win here but I'm not one to go tipping 1.211/5 shots. I'd be much more inclined to back Chelsea to win both halves which is currently available on the Betfair Sportsbook at 2.35/4. Liquidity on the Exchange will get better nearer kick off though and you could get an even bigger price if the negativity around Chelsea continues.

I just have a feeling that they'll be looking to prove a point tonight and will come out all guns blazing. The Romanians have nothing to play for and their players will be more focused on doing some Christmas shopping in London rather than on the game itself.

First Goalscorer  

It hasn't been easy to predict Jose Mournho's line ups this season but Juan Mata has started their last three games and they've scored nine goals. While the Spaniard didn't score any of those himself, he did find the net 18 times last term and he looks a very tempting bet to break the deadlock this evening. 

He's currently trading at around the 7.06/1 mark to score first, and don't forget that if he doesn't start, you'll get your stake back if a goal goes in before he comes on.

Cash Out          

I might be reaching a bit here but I think there could be some mileage in backing 'Any Unquoted' in the Correct Score market at 3.65 with a view to trade (Cash Out). 

'Any Unquoted' is basically one of the teams scoring four or more goals - Chelsea the most likely in this instance - and given their prolific-ness of late and the fact that they managed it in the away fixture, it's not hard to assume that it will trade much lower in-play.

Recommended Bets

Back Chelsea to win both halves @ 2.35/4  
Back Juan Mata to score first @ 7.06/1

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