Lille v Chelsea: Blues to complete job with minimum of fuss

Expect Thomas Tuchel's visitors to secure their place in the last eight with few problems when they play in France on Wednesday night, writes James Eastham...

Renato Sanches sidelined

For LilleRenato Sanches is ruled out by injury. The hosts will be less effective driving forward from midfield without him. In all other positions, the Ligue 1 outfit should be at full strength.

For ChelseaReece James and Ben Chilwell are still sidelined. Callum Hudson-Odoi is doubtful with an Achilles injury. The visitors are hopeful that Cesar Azpilicueta will be fit. As always with the Blues, there's competition for places in several positions.

Chelsea should have too much class

When Chelsea ran out 2-0 winners in the first leg at Stamford Bridge three weeks ago, the gap in ability between the sides was obvious.

Lille may be Ligue 1 champions, but we flagged up in our preview for that game that the side from north-eastern France are now considerably weaker than when they claimed the crown last May.

Jocelyn Gourvennec's players battled gamely and had their moments at Stamford Bridge, but Thomas Tuchel's team had too much class and quality when it mattered.

With their two-goal lead, Chelsea have one foot in the next round already. The odds of 1.05 on them in the To Qualify market are fair.

Lille facing tactical dilemma

The state of the tie poses Lille a dilemma: do they go for broke, or approach the game in a more cautious manner?

Go for broke, and they risk getting picked off by a Chelsea team with considerable counter-attacking potential.

Play more cautiously, and Lille may lack the energy and numbers in the attacking half to truly trouble the visitors.

Whatever approach Lille take, it doesn't change the simple fact there's a quality deficit between the sides that they'll struggle to bridge.

Without Renato Sanches Lille will lack forward thrust from midfield, while Turkey international striker Burak Yilmaz is a shadow of the player that inspired their Ligue 1 title triumph last season.

Canada international Jonathan David is a player of immense promise and has a fine scoring record in Ligue 1 this season (12 goals in 28 appearances at a rate of a goal every 164 minutes). But he remains a novice at this level.

Given Lille's limitations, it's hard to make a case for the hosts to win on the night, let alone qualify for the last eight against all odds.

The prices currently available reflect our scepticism. Lille are 4.3 to claim victory on the night, with Chelsea 1.97 and The Draw 3.65.

Chelsea have the class to win without much difficulty. In a one-off, winner-takes-all situation, they would be an appealing selection.

We're reticent to back them, however, because they don't need to win. Chelsea can draw, or even lose by a single goal, and still go through.

There's always a risk to backing a side that don't need to win, as they can afford to alter their motivation as the game goes on depending on incidents that may occur, or circumstances that may change.

For that reason, we prefer to ignore the Match Odds market, and focus on the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market instead.

Low goals the smart pick

No matter how hard they try, Lille will struggle to breach a Chelsea back line that has vast experience at this level, and better players individually and collectively than Lille have in attack.

Marry that with the fact that Chelsea can afford to sit back and invite pressure from Lille without needing to over-exert themselves, and Unders becomes an appealing selection.

We expect Chelsea to look to take the sting out of the game and kill any sense of expectation among the home supporters before it has a chance to take root by frustrating the hosts and maintaining their clean sheet for as long as they can.

Should that happen, you may get opportunities to trade out of a pre-match Unders selection at 1.95 for a reasonable profit after 15 or 20 minutes. For a guide to using Betfair to trade, click here.

Alternatively, you can let the selection run. A price around evens is worth taking given the state of the tie, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the sides.

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