Basel can pinch parity from tired Chelsea in second half
Chelsea are now Britain’s sole representative left in continental competition this term and they fly out to Switzerland to face 7/1 Europa League outsiders Basel with a late equaliser away to Liverpool still stinging their collective pride. Failing to win away has become a recurring theme for Rafael Benitez’s blue boys and Basel can be backed to gain a St Jakob Park draw at 23/10.
The theme of Chelsea’s tired legs is becoming well-worn, but against Liverpool it was arguably fatigue that was responsible for the lack of invention and slowly retreating defensive line that ultimately invited Liverpool back into the game. The Blues will again find themselves up against comparatively daisy-fresh rivals in Basel whose limbs are some 16 games lighter ahead of Thursday’s clash.
Basel have won the second half of four of their last five home games, bagging a brace after the interval in three of those encounters and can be backed to nick the last 45 minutes at 21/10 with Coral.
However Chelsea’s away form had been erratic long before the season got long in the tooth, with four wins from 15 road games since 2013 begun. Away games in Europe have been no exception, with two victories to show for six outings.
Even whilst they were struggling for form earlier in the campaign Basel were always rock solid at St Jakob Park and Murat Yakin’s Rotblau are now 17 games unbeaten at home having lost just once there in 22 games this season.
If the hosts have a weakness, it’s their profligacy in front of goal at this level. They registered a whopping 34 strikes across the two legs against Tottenham – nine more than the Lilywhites – and they should have won far comfortably, such was their superiority over a frankly attritional Spurs side.
After an astonishing run of eight wins and two draws from 11 post-Christmas-break outings – in which they kept clean sheets in all six home games – Basel’s form has begun to drop off slightly of late, with four draws and a win in their last five games. With that in mind Chelsea can expect to register at least once – before retreating into their shells – having notched 10 goals in their last five on the road and both teams to score can be backed at 4/5 with Coral.