Sevilla v Chelsea: Another tight battle in store

Frank Lampard
A draw wouldn't be a bad result for Frank Lampard's side

Sevilla and Chelsea have already fought out a 0-0 draw in this season's Champions League - Andy Schooler is expecting another tight battle on Wednesday...

"It's a result which the visitors – who have played out a goalless draw three times in their last nine games - would probably sign for right now."

Back under 0.5 goals @ 12.011/1

Sevilla v Chelsea
Wednesday 2 December, 20:00
Live on BT Sport 3

Top spot up for grabs

With both teams already through to the last 16 of the Champions League, the focus for both is now about winning the group.

A victory for either side here will seal top spot, while the draw favours Chelsea. If the points are shared, they will stay top knowing a home win over Krasnodar next week would, almost certainly, see them win the pool. A score draw here makes that even more likely but even a goalless stalemate would be considered a decent result given the Blues' much healthier goal difference.

In a season when the fixture list is as packed as it is, it remains to be seen how much of a priority that top spot is for these teams. The winners are guaranteed to avoid holders Bayern Munich in February's next stage but the more pressing matter of crucial matches coming up this weekend will probably be in the thinking of both managers ahead of this one.

Chelsea, going well in the Premier League, will be at home to traditional rivals Leeds on Saturday. That's unlikely to be an easy game. Meanwhile, Sevilla, who sit fifth in La Liga, will host Real Madrid on the same day.

Injury issues for hosts

The reigning Europa League champions started this season badly but they've now won five in a row, a run sparked by their comeback from 2-0 down against Krasnodar in this competition.

They've achieved those results without several key players and boss Julen Lopetegui will have some selection issues to solve again here.

First-choice keeper Bono has been sidelined after a positive COVID-19 test, with winger Suso having also missed recent games.

Left-back has been a problem area with both Sergio Escudero and Marcos Acuna missing of late - central defender Karim Rekik played there at the weekend.

Acuna could return here but it's potentially an area Chelsea will look to target.

Lampard likely to make changes

Frank Lampard's squad is in better shape with Christian Pulisic returning to action during the goalless draw with Spurs, a result which stretched Chelsea's unbeaten run to 14 in all competitions.

Defensively they've improved considerably after also suffering a sticky start and only two goals have been conceded in their last nine.

After securing a last-16 spot in Rennes last week, Lampard spoke of the "busy schedule" and the need for "freshness in the team" and he will doubtless make some tweaks to his side here.

Given what another clean sheet would bring in terms of the group, I'd expect his changes to come more in forward areas. Callum Hudson-Odoi did a good job in Rennes - he's scored in both away Champions League games so far - while Pulisic is clearly in need of game time after almost a month out. Olivier Giroud (pictured) is another who could have earned a start after last week's winner in France.

olivier-giroud-chelsea.jpg

The reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge, which ended goalless, was a very tight affair with little created (Chelsea managed only six shots) and something similar here would not surprise.

Sevilla have struggled for goals, scoring more than once in only four of their 14 games so far this season. Two of those were against group strugglers Krasnodar and another against Celta Vigo, who currently sit in the relegation zone in La Liga.

Primed for close contest

If they are to win, it seems likely they will grind out victory with a solid defensive display - three of their last six wins have been by a 1-0 scoreline. That correct score is at 9.89/1 with the home side 2.8815/8 to win.

Chelsea's attacking power has been much greater but, as already suggested, their focus may well be on keeping Sevilla out. It's certainly hard to see them going all guns blazing given what defeat means for them.

It's also worth noting that for all the plaudits Lampard's side have had of late, they've still not beaten any team currently in the top half of the Premier League, while they couldn't see off Sevilla in this competition either.

Chelsea are 2.6613/8 for victory but the draw looks arguably the best bet in the match result market at 3.55/2.

Sevilla are unbeaten in 14 European home games, while Chelsea have lost on just one of their last 12 trips to Spain (drawing eight).

Goals at a premium

However, a better pick looks to be to go low on goals - I'm happy to back under 2.5 at 1.9310/11 given the group circumstances. Avoiding defeats leaves Chelsea in a great position and that much-improved defence has been miserly of late.

This bet looked a winner a long way out in the reverse fixture and it's landed in 75 per cent of games at Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan so far this campaign.

I'm also tempted to back 0-0 at 12.011/1 in the under 0.5 goals market given it's a result which the visitors - who have played out a goalless draw three times in their last nine games - would probably sign for right now.

While ideally they'll win this game and give themselves a dead rubber next week, they will also be confident of seeing off Krasnodar at home if that's required, even with a weakened side.

Clearly it's the sort of bet which can go downhill quickly but I'm not convinced the option is priced up correctly so it looks worth throwing some loose change at.

Opta fact

Sevilla are unbeaten in their last seven meetings with English sides in major European competition (W3 D4) since losing 2-0 away to Leicester City in March 2017.

Click here for Alex Keble's tactical preview of matchday five

Andy Schooler's P/L 2020/21

Staked: 34.5pts
Returned: 27.41pts
P/L: -7.09pts

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