By Ian S Palmer
Stamford Bridge in London, England will be the site of the Group G European Champions League showdown between home team Chelsea and visiting Maccabi Tel Aviv of Israel this Wednesday, September 16. Chelsea, the reigning Premier League Champions, have gotten off to a brutal start in their domestic league this season. They sit in 17th place in the 20-team Premier League with a record of one win, one draw and three losses. They’ve scored seven goals and allowed a league-worst 12 against. Maccabi currently sits in second place in the Israel Premier League with seven points from two wins and a draw. They’ve scored five times and conceded three.
- bet365 currently lists Chelsea as the favorites at 1/7 with Maccabi Tel Aviv 25/1 and a draw at 8/1
HEAD TO HEAD:
- The two teams have never met before in competitive soccer action. The other two teams they’ll each be facing in Group G are FC Dynamo Kyiv of Ukraine and FC Porto of Portugal. Chelsea will be competing in the group stage of the Champions League for the 14th time and have won the competition once before. They’ve won their group nine times in the past 12 seasons, were runners up twice and were knocked out at the group stage in 2012/13, which was the season after they won the European Cup. Chelsea exited the event in the round of 16 last year at the hands of French Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain. The two-legged tie was level 3-3 on aggregate, but PSG advanced due to the controversial away-goals rule. Chelsea has played on Israeli team once before when they met Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC in the second round of the UEFA Cup in 2001/02. They lost 2-0 away and drew 1-1 at home.
Maccabi is the reigning league and cup winners of Israel and this is just their second appearance in a Champions League tournament. They reached this year’s event by beating Basel of Switzerland on the away-goals rule in their playoff encounter. They also beat Hibernians FC and FC Viktoria Plzeň in this year’s qualifiers. Maccabi’s first shot in the Champions League came in the 2004/05 campaign, but finished last place in a group with Ajax, Bayern Munich and Juventus. They did manage to draw against Juventus and beat Ajax though. Maccabi has played one English team in the past as they met Stoke City in the group stage of the Europa League in 2011/12 and lost 3-0 away and 2-1 at home.
Chelsea will be without Belgian international goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois as he’s sidelined for several weeks with an injury. Asmir Begovic should be between the posts. Chelsea enters the game with a single victory in six games in all competitions this season and they’ve lost both of their home encounters. The team is off to its worst start since 1986. Maccabi will be without the services of Eliazer Dasa as he’s serving a suspension. The team is playing well though and has a seven-game undefeated streak going in all league and European competitions. The odds are surprisingly high for a Chelsea win, considering how poorly they’ve been playing.