Rennes v Chelsea: Superior form and class point to simple Blues victory

Frank Lampard's visitors look too strong in all departments ahead of their Tuesday night fixture in France, writes James Eastham...

Rennes vs Chelsea
Champions League Group E
Tue, 17:55 GMT
Live on BT Sport 3

Few absentees on either side

Rennes' no.1 left-back Faitout Maouassa returned to full training last week after two months on the sidelines and is doubtful. Dalbert Henrique and France U21 international Adrien Truffert are the contenders to replace him.

For Chelsea, Christian Pulisic is still out. Otherwise the visitors should be close to full strength.

Obvious gulf in quality

Chelsea are 1.7 to collect maximum points from this trip to France but the gulf in class and form between the Blues and Rennes - the Ligue 1 outfit are 5.5, with The Draw 4.4 - is so clear that there's an argument that the Premier League outfit ought to be even shorter.

Chelsea are top of Champions League Group E with seven points from three fixtures while Rennes are bottom on just one point. Those standings reflect the difference in quality between the sides, and the difference in standard ought to be borne out by what happens on Tuesday night.

Chelsea ran out easy 3-0 winners when the sides met at Stamford Bridge earlier this month and a 40th minute red card for Dalbert Henrique tells only part of the story.

Chelsea were already in control by the time Rennes' Brazilian full-back got his marching orders and another comfortable victory for the Blues would come as no surprise.

Form patterns paint a picture

Rennes' form pains a bleak picture for the hosts: they've lost five of their last six matches in all competitions (W1-D0-L5), failing to score in their last three outings.

Like many Ligue 1 sides that are occasional entrants into this competition - this is Rennes' first-ever Champions League campaign - Rennes are too raw to cope with the physical and mental intensity of playing midweek and then weekend fixtures week after week.

Such a busy rhythm of games is part and parcel of life at a top club such as Chelsea for Frank Lampard's players but their Rennes counterparts are struggling to come to terms with the demands being placed on them.

World Cup winner Steven Nzonzi (pictured above) is one of the few players in the expected Rennes starting line-up with the requisite experience to cope at this level. Several of the other names that manager Julien Stephan is likely to put on the teamsheet - Hamari Traore, Benjamin Bourigeaud, Sehrou Guirassy - are excellent Ligue 1 performers - but the step-up required to shine in the Champions League is proving beyond them.

Worse still for the hosts, while Rennes' form is awful, Chelsea's is excellent: the Blues have won their last five matches in all competitions, scoring 16 goals in the process.

Defensively Chelsea have been excellent as well, keeping clean sheets in seven of of their last nine games in all competitions. Stronger than Rennes in all departments, it's impossible to make a meaningful case for anything other than an away victory.

Visitors the smart selection

If the 1.7 on a Chelsea win is too short, consider backing the visitors on the Asian Handicap. Chelsea are available at around evens with a -0.5&-1.0 start. With this selection, you'll make a small profit if Chelsea win by a single goal, and a bigger profit if they win by two or more goals. For a full guide to Asian Handicap betting, click here.

A second selection to consider is 'Yes' in the Chelsea to Score In Both Halves market. The rampant form of Frank Lampard's players in front of goal bodes well for the visitors, and there's little in Rennes' make-up that suggests the hosts will be able to put up meaningful resistance if Chelsea play close to their potential. This selection will be available at around 2.7 when the market has liquidity in it.

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