Michael Lintorn argues that backing Chelsea to lead at half time is the best bet for their trip to NK Maribor...
"Chelsea have been ahead by the break in all three of their Champions League fixtures to date this term."
NK Maribor v Chelsea
Live on Sky Sports 1
Match Odds: NK Maribor 12.011/1, Chelsea 1.341/3, The Draw 5.69/2
This writer isn't usually too prone to fawning over Jose Mourinho, but the first meeting of Chelsea and NK Maribor at Stamford Bridge last month was a masterpiece in how a manager can swat away the threat of complacency.
Armed with the artillery that the Slovenian side had held Sporting Lisbon and Schalke 1-1 in their opening two Group G encounters, Mourinho vowed to field his strongest team and observed that NK Maribor "showed that in football there are no favourites, so until the end I expect hard work".
In reality, the hard work was complete within 31 minutes as Loic Remy, Didier Drogba and John Terry fired the Blues into a 3-0 lead that was added to after the interval by a Mitja Viler own goal and an Eden Hazard brace for a 6-0 victory which was their biggest ever in the Champions League.
Chelsea are consequently 1.341/3 to double up with their fourth win in five away group-stage ties, a result which would lift their Group G tally to ten points and potentially confirm passage to the round-of-16 for an 11th time in 12 campaigns.
Mourinho's men have been ahead by the break in all three of their Champions League fixtures to date this term, obtaining 1-0 advantages against Schalke and Sporting Lisbon and a 3-0 one against NK Maribor two weeks ago.
They were also on top after 45 minutes in five of last season's six group games, as well as both round-of-16 legs against Galatasaray, and are the sole Premier League club to have led over half of their 2014/15 competition matches.
You can get a slightly plumper price of 1.8810/11 on Chelsea doing the half-time/full-time business, though having discussed Chelsea's tendency to surrender winning positions last week - since when they did it again at home to QPR, almost costing them two points - it doesn't seem worth the risk.
Indeed, Chelsea went on to lose one and draw two of the aforementioned Champions League outings that were going so well for 45 minutes, should you feel suitably emboldened to back either Chelsea/Draw at 25.024/1 or Chelsea/NK Maribor at 95.094/1.
Half Time Score
Backing Chelsea to be 1-0 up at the interval backfired in the initial collision because the Londoners started too well, yet the trends are enticing enough to render a second attempt appetising.
They have gone eight matches across the board without conceding a first-half goal and were ahead 1-0 in five of their most recent seven in either the Premier League or Champions League.
Best Bet: Back Chelsea to lead at half time @ 1.814/5
Other Recommended Bet: Back Chelsea to lead 1-0 at half time @ 3.412/5