Sunday, February 25

Lille vs. Chelsea: Back French Side in Low-Scoring UCL Clash

Lille vs. Chelsea Odds

Lille Odds +320
Chelsea Odds -120
Draw +250
Over/Under 2.5 (-105 / -120)
Day | Time Wednesday | 4 p.m. ET
How To Watch Paramount+ | fuboTV
Odds updated via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

Among all of the trouble and craziness it’s dealing with at the moment, Chelsea has a massive Champions League match Wednesday against Lille in Round of 16 play.

The Blues earned a 2-0 win in the reverse fixture, setting themselves up well for their road trip, but they’ll be facing a team that has the capability of winning games in this competition. Needless to say, advancing to the quarterfinal round won’t come easy.

Lille had an odd opening half of its season, finding good form in the Champions League, but failing to convert that into solid domestic league performances. However, the tide has turned on Les Dogues’ season and they finds themselves just outside a European position in France.

So, will Chelsea put on a repeat of its performance at Stamford Bridge or can Lille push the English giants on home soil?

Lille Playing Near Best at Crucial Time

Les Dogues were in a very rough position heading into February, but they’ve crucially been playing at a much higher level as we’ve entered the business end of the season.

Since its 5-1 demolition at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain, Lille hasn’t lost in the French top flight and it has compiled a mixture of grind-it-out performances as well as times when it has simply outclassed its opponent.

In games against Lyon and Montpellier, the club was able to combine a sturdy back line with a huge goal to earn the 1-0 win. And in the match Lyon, they actually generated half the expected goals that Lyon did. Against Clermont Foot, Lille dominated the proceedings to the tune of a 4-0 victory and 1.66 xG edge.

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Lille has been stout defensively throughout UCL play and particularly at home, where it has conceded just 0.82 xGA per game thus far in the competition. Unfortunately, the team is going to need to be efficient on the offensive end to muster a chance at qualification, but Chelsea has also has one of the best defenses in the competition.

The absence of Renato Sanches is unfortunate for Lille, but it’s capable of competing with this Chelsea squad.

Chelsea Reliant on World-Class Defense

By all accounts, this Blues’ back line remains one of the best in the world and it is going to have to be that way in this spot.

Chelsea is third out of 20 defenses in the Premier League in terms of xGA and fifth out of 50 in the Champions League. It also hasn’t conceded more than one xGA in an EPL game since a Jan. 2 meeting with Liverpool. And that span has included games against Manchester City and Tottenham.

In the first leg, Chelsea conceded just 0.69 xGA to Lille and it really felt that way watching the game. There weren’t many times when you felt Lille was threatening to change the complexion of the fixture.

Of course, a bigger worry for Chelsea at the moment is the status of its club, with owner Roman Abramovich being sanctioned by the United Kingdom government and the perennial EPL title contender now evidently being up for sale.

As such, income streams have been limited and the club’s spending has been literally restricted by the government, but it appears everything is in order for Chelsea’s trip to Lille.

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Reece James comes in as a question ahead of the fixture with a muscle issue, while Ben Chilwell remains out and Cezar Azpilicueta being another question mark. The availability of James and Azpilicueta will be important, but like it is for Lille, the absences wouldn’t be devastating.

BJ Cunningham’s UCL Model Projections

Betting Analysis & Pick

There are two spots that I believe have found value in this fixture, so I’ll start with the side.

Lille’s positive home xG differential in Ligue 1 and Champions League play is reflective of its home form, and it has maintained a positive margin in each of its last three home games.

Chelsea is far more prone to loose performances on the road, evidenced by its 0.36 xG/game drop away from Stamford Bridge and 0.19 xGA/game drop, but it also has two days less rest heading into this tie. As such, getting Lille at even money or better to draw or win is a good price, but I believe there’s value on the under as well.

With defenses that concede a combined 1.39 xGA/outing in the Champions League, and a Chelsea side that’ll be happy to play conservatively, any reasonable price on the total staying under 2.5 goals is appealing ahead of this match.

The Blues have generated two-plus xG just once in the new year, which came against Norwich City. So, even with Lille playing for required goals in this contest, I still would back the under in this contest.

Pick: Lille +0.5 (+100) | Total Under 2.5 Goals (-120)

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