Chelsea v Rubin Kazan Betting Preview
This draw for the Europa League quarter-final a fortnight ago was not as kind as it could be for Chelsea, not in terms of the strength of Rubin Kazan, but their geographic location. Chelsea have been scheduled to play 6 games in just 16 days, which includes a mid-week trip to Russia to play Rubin Kazan next week. A shorter round journey would have been more favourable for Chelsea. Having already played two of those games, in three days, Chelsea may come into this match slightly fatigued.
Chelsea have now had three days break after playing two matches in close proximity. Rafa Benitez’s much-changed Chelsea team fell to a 2-1 defeat to Southampton in the Barclay’s Premier League on Saturday before the full-strength team beat Manchester United 1-0 to book a place in the FA Cup semi-final two days later. The second of those performances was much better and showed that Chelsea still have what it takes to compete against the bigger teams. They limited Manchester United to very few chances and looked bright going forward with their attacking three of Mata, Oscar and Hazard, who caused United (and most teams this season) problems all match.
Juan Mata has been an influential player for Chelsea this season and is the most likely offensive outlet for the London side on Thursday. The Spanish midfielder has been involved in most of the good things Chelsea have been doing as of late and offers good value at 5/1 to score first, 5/4 to score anytime and 5/2 to score anytime in a Chelsea victory with William Hill. Another player that may offer a good outlet to score is the young Brazilian prodigy Oscar. The attacking midfielder has been in fine form this season and has scored some crucial goals for the Londoners this season.
Rubin Kazan are unbeaten in their last five away Europa League matches, including an impressive 2-0 victory at Atletico Madrid, who usually have an impeccable home record. They are a tricky side to compare to against Chelsea as they play in a much weaker division on paper and set their goals on doing well in Europe. But, one thing that is clear to see about Rubin Kazan is the fact that they have a very strong defensive record. The Russian side have not actually conceded a goal in their last five matches in all competitions, winning their three home matches 1-0, 2-0 & 2-0 and drawing both away games 0-0. They are certainly going to make it difficult for the home side to break them down on Thursday.
Bebars Natcho may be Rubin Kazan’s most likely goal scorer in the match. The Israeli midfielder is their top goal scorer this season with 8 league goals. Natcho is 11/2 to score anytime in the match, 14/1 to score first and a massive 20/1 to score anytime in a away victory with William Hill.
It is clear to see that Rubin Kazan are going to make it difficult for Chelsea to score and this may make it a very tight encounter. The strategy of the away side may be to try and take a 0-0 draw back to Russia next week and try and win their home match. A risky plan, but this type of strategy may make it very difficult for Chelsea who struggle to break teams down when they ‘park the bus’, hence their poor home record, especially against the weaker teams in the division. As good as Chelsea are offensively they do find it difficult to break teams down who get players behind the ball and close up the space. Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard are going to be vital players in this match and their ability to break through the stubborn defensive line will almost certainly dictate this match. But can they do it?
It does seem that this game is going to be low-scoring and at 10/11 the under 2.5 goals bet does offer some value. This is a bet that would have won in four of Chelsea’s last five home matches and in all four of Rubin Kazan’s last four away matches. It seems that this is going to be a tight affair with few goals in the match and therefore at just above even money this unders bet may be a good bet.
In terms of the outright betting and the score-line the odds suggest a home victory; Chelsea are priced up at 8/15, the draw at 14/5 and the away victory at 11/2. Chelsea do seem very short in the market, especially when you take into account Rubin Kazan’s very impressive defensive record and recent Europa League form, but if Chelsea play like they did against United then you wouldn’t back against them. In terms of what represents value in the market, the 2-0 home victory at 6/1 may do just that. Rubin Kazan do struggle to score goals and if Chelsea are strong from set-pieces then it is difficult to see the Rubin Kazan snatching that all-important away goal. It also seems likely that it is going to be difficult for Chelsea to score for fun against a team with such a good defensive record, but with their attacking outlets and the in-form Mata they certainly look capable of scoring a couple.
PREDICTION: Chelsea 2-0 Rubin Kazan @ 6/1 @ William Hill
VALUE BET: Mata to score first and Chelsea to win @ 13/2 @ William Hill
BEST BET: Under 2.5 goals @ 10/11 @ William Hill
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