The new season of the UEFA Champions League will kick-off on Tuesday, 20 October 2020, when Frank Lampard’s Chelsea will take on the Europa League champions Sevilla in one of the intriguing first round games at Stamford Bridge in England’s capital London.
Chelsea and Sevilla are placed alongside FC Krasnodar of Russia and France’s Rennes in Group E of the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League.
The absence of the passionate soccer crowds across all major European fields is something that hits all clubs and whereas Sevilla probably enjoyed playing in front of 30% filled capacity at the Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary, in the UEFA Super Cup game last month (though they lost 2-1 to Bayern Munich), it seems that both sides will have to wait a lot until they can finally welcome back their home supporters.
Chelsea Betting Preview
The Blues have won only one of their last seven home games in the Champions League – a 2-1 win over Lille in last season’s group stage – and Frank Lampard’s side would love to start the new campaign with a decent result.
The Londoners come off a disappointing 3-3 home draw against Southampton on Saturday, as they failed to materialize Timo Werner’s efficiency and blew up a 2-0 lead. This kept them out of the top-four as Chelsea have collected just 8 points out of their opening five Premier League games – as much as they did in 2019-20.
Since a disappointing 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool one month ago, Frank Lampard’s men have scored an impressive 13 goals in the following three home games.
Frank Lampard had to endure another devastating performance and lack of coordination between his goalkeeper and defense, yet the legendary Chelsea boss could be encouraged by the improvement and gradual teamwork progress of his German signings Kai Havertz and Timo Werner. The latter scored his first two goals in the Premier League and also assisted for countryman’s Havertz goal, while Hakim Ziyech made his Chelsea debut after an injury lay-off.
However, the upcoming match would come too soon for the Moroccan midfielder (Ziyech) and he is unlikely to start, so we won’t be surprised if Frank Lampard fields the same attacking quartet with Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz all behind Timo Werner.
Willy Caballero is another option if Lampard is willing to bench Kepa after another blunder, yet the 39-years-old Argentina veteran was far from convincing when he featured in Chelsea’s 3-3 draw at West Bromwich Albion last month.
On the other hand, rotations at the back would be necessary if Frank Lampard wants to enjoy a more peaceful Tuesday night, but that’s the Champions League and we highly doubt that Lampard has any illusions that his experienced counterpart won’t take into consideration his obvious struggles.
With that said, Thiago Silva should be available to start as the Brazil veteran was rested over the weekend, but unfortunately, Frank Lampard’s goalkeeping options are considerably reduced as new signing Edouard Mendy picked up a thigh injury while being on international duty with Senegal and is a major doubt for this one.
Either captain Cesar Azpilicueta or Reece James will start at right-back, while either Andreas Christensen or Kurt Zouma could start alongside Thiago Silva at centre-back.
Marcos Alonso and Jorginho have both served their suspensions in last season’s Champions League round of 16 against Bayern Munich, but only the latter is set to start in Chelsea’s season opener.
Timo Werner should lead the line but Frank Lampard could opt for more attacking force with the likes of Oliver Giroud and Tammy Abraham also being in contention.
Young midfielder Billy Gilmour is continuing his recovery from knee surgery, and Lampard recently revealed that the Scotsman will not be back in contention until the back end of November at the earliest.
Recently returning from a hamstring injury, it’s unclear whether the USA international Christian Pulisic is fit to start for a second game in a row in a short period, so if he’s not fully fit, Mateo Kovacic or Callum Hudson-Odoi are both pushing for starts for the Blues.
However, it’s yet to be seen whether Lampard would once again field a 4-2-3-1 formation or he’ll play a 4-3-3, with Mateo Kovacic alongside Jorginho and N’Golo Kante as a way to prevent Sevilla’s anticipated counter-attacks.
Sevilla Betting Preview
Sevilla’s 18-game unbeaten run in the La Liga was ended over the weekend as they suffered their first defeat in the domestic top-flight since February, when Julen Lopetegui’s side lost 1-0 at Granada on Saturday. However, Sevilla were down to 10 men when midfielder Joan Jordan was sent-off in the 45th minute and they also had to deal without one of their key defenders as Jules Kounde tested positive for coronavirus earlier in the week.
Sevilla have already knocked two English sides en route to their sixth Europa League title in August, when they beat Wolves and Manchester United in the quarter-finals and the semi-finals respectively.
All in all, Sevilla are unbeaten against an English side since a 2-0 defeat at Leicester City in the 2016-17 Champions League round of 16.
The Andalusians return to the Champions League for the first time since 2017-18 when they lost to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, after they managed to knock out Manchester United in the round of 16.
Experienced Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic returned to Sevilla after six seasons at Barcelona and will arguably play a pivotal role for the current Seville outfit.
Lucas Ocampos and Luuk de Jong will most likely return into Sevilla’s starting XI here as the pair was left on the bench against Granada, following their international duties during the break, and were brought on at half-time.
Dutch centre-back Karim Rekik, who joined the Andalusian side from Hertha BSC earlier this month, could be an option to refresh Sevilla’s defense, particularly considering Jules Kounde’s absence. However, it would be a risky move to make such rotations against an attacking-minded Chelsea side that has a world class forward like Timo Werner, who’s eager to justify his whopping transfer fee.
Sergio Escudero only lasted 18 minutes before needing to come off at the weekend but the left-back travelled to England and could start at Stamford Bridge.
Sevilla’s Europa League superiority is undeniable but the Andalusians are not so impressive in the Champions League. Having won just three of their last 16 away games in Europe’s premium competition, Sevilla would fancy their chances to leave Stamford Bridge with a point or even three, and Chelsea’s defensive woes are something that Julen Lopetegui would try and probably knows how to expose.
And whereas one of these three victories was in the 2017-18 Champions League qualifying against Istanbul Basaksehir and another one was against Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb in the 2016-17 group stage, where Sevilla have remarkably kept a clean sheet in all of their three away group games when they also had visits at Juventus and Lyon, the most considerable result was a 2-1 victory against Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United at Old Trafford in the 2017-18 round of 16.
Possible Starting Lineups of Chelsea and Sevilla
Chelsea: Kepa Arrizabalaga – Reece James, Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen, Ben Chilwell – Jorginho, N’Golo Kante – Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic – Timo Werner. (4-2-3-1)
Sevilla: Yassine Bounou – Sergio Escudero, Diego Carlos, Sergi Gomez, Jesus Navas – Joan Jordan, Fernando, Ivan Rakiitic – Lucas Ocampos, Luuk de Jong, Suso. (4-3-3)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
There were days when Stamford Bridge was Chelsea’s fortress, not only in European games, but that’s not the case right now and Frank Lampard works to restore part of the lost glory which he himself has experienced as a Chelsea player.
Despite all the investments and the quality signings made by Frank Lampard, the reshaping of his Chelsea formation might take some time and Sevilla won’t be willing to give him enough of it.
Chelsea are +104 favorites to kick-off their new Champions League campaign with a victory, but Sevilla’s odds of +260 at BetOnline should be considered as well, particularly given the well-known vulnerability and error-prone defending of the English side.
Goals should be on the menu here and we expect to see 3 or more goals, with both teams capable of scoring, as our prediction is based on Frank Lampard’s attacking approach as well as on Sevilla’s counter-attacking ability.
Spooky Express Parlay
Both teams to score – Yes
Total goals Over 2.5 +114
BetOnline 5/10 Units