Chelsea v Sporting Lisbon: Mass changes mean Blues are best avoided

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With a place booked in the last 16, Chelsea’s Champions League tie may seem like a dead rubber to Blues fans, but whatever you do, don’t mention that to their Portuguese visitors.

Sporting Lisbon know that a draw would (barring a Schalke landslide against Maribor) book a place in the next round, so will be keen to take advantage of Chelsea’s latest slip up.

The hosts are 7/10 to top Group G in style, while it is 14/5 that the two play out a draw or 4/1 that the Sportinguistas bag a surprise victory.

However, we’ve picked out a trio of markets that deserve closer inspection ahead of the game at Stamford Bridge.

Both teams to score @ 5/6

The fact that Sporting Lisbon have scored in their last 11 Champions League games on the road should sound as a warning to Jose Mourinho as he looks likely to rest key players.

With the untested Ruben Loftus-Cheek and third choice goalkeeper (in Europe) Mitchell Beeney potentially making their debut, the visitors from the continent could relish the probable absence of John Terry, Eden Hazard and Willian.

Nevertheless, even with rotation taking hold, it is hard to see the Blues failing to register a goal.

Diego Costa and Didier Drogba provide world class options to lead a line that is blessed with plenty of support in behind. This looks a stonking bet.

Nani to score anytime @ 7/2

If Lisbon do break the hosts’ resolve there could be a familiar name on the scoresheet, in Manchester United loanee Nani.

The 28-year-old has netted four times in the Champions League this season, scoring in the last three games in Europe and is enjoying a rich vein of form since returning to his home country.

He certainly knows how to score at the Bridge, having bagged two for the Red Devils in cup competitions during his spell in England.

Sporting Lisbon +1 @ 23/20

As mentioned, with his side already certain to top the group whatever happens, the ‘Special One’ looks likely to be tempted to shuffle his pack, with one eye on a busy schedule ahead including a Capital One Cup quarter final tie.

Therefore, backing Sporting to get at least a point from their trip to west London looks more appealing than the short price on the hosts.

Marco Silva’s side have won their last four, scoring three or more goals each time, and will know they will have to go hammer and tong to avoid dropping down to the Europa League.

And with Chelsea coming unstuck against Newcastle at the weekend, it could be a perfect opportunity to secure an upset.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.