Europa League – Chelsea v Slavia Prague – Quarterfinal Round
After a quick turnaround, Europa League is back with leg two of the quarterfinal matches this week. We’re going to take a quick look at those matchups this week, and after last week’s leg one action, most of the matchups are likely settled, at least per the various odds published around the internet.
Up next, we’re going to take a look at the matchup between English club (and current favorite) Chelsea and the Czech Republic’s Slavia Prague. Their leg two match kicks off from Stamford Bridge in London, England on Thursday, 18 April at 9:00pm GMT (3:00pm EST).
What Happened During Leg One
For 86 minutes last Thursday, it almost looked like hosts Slavia Prague would escape with a scoreless draw. The heavily favored Chelsea club didn’t look nearly as strong as expected, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. Chelsea led in ball possession, with a 57% to 43% advantage, yet still only managed two attempts on target. But one of those attempts – a header from Marcos Alonso – found the back of the net in the 86th minute, giving Chelsea the 1-0 victory:
While many were expecting a stronger showing from the favorites, a win is a win, and it is especially more so on the road when away goals are the primary tiebreaker. With the matchup returning to England this week, they remain in a very strong position to advance.
What the Experts are Saying
The experts obviously expect things to go swimmingly for the Blues once they return home. They entered leg one as an overwhelming favorite to advance, doing so in 95% of FiveThirtyEight simulations. The result last week, regardless of the score, hasn’t dampened those odds, and the Blues are now favored to advance 99% of the time. They also maintain their 1-in-3 chance of hoisting the trophy in Baku on May 29th, though they obviously still have some work ahead of them in the form of the winner of the Eintracht Frankfurt – Benfica matchup.
What We’re Thinking
Unlike some of the other matchups this week, Slavia Prague actually has a smaller mountain to climb. One goal and they are tied on aggregate and force the match to extra time. Two goals and they win outright on away goals.
But that’s only if they manage to keep Chelsea scoreless for 90 minutes. On their home pitch. In front of nearly 40,000 supporters. I don’t see that as being a viable outcome. Chelsea has not lost in Europa League this season, and has scored 14 goals at home during the competition (while surrendering one goal). Slavia Prague has shown an ability to do well on the road in the tournament, but Chelsea is a much better club than Genk (a 4-1 victory in the Round of 32) and Sevilla (a 2-2 draw in the Round of 16).
I expect Chelsea to advance, maybe winning this match by multiple goals.
Until next time…