Premier League leaders Chelsea are set to play host to Sporting Lisbon tomorrow night safe in the knowledge that they have already secured their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League after topping Group G with a game to spare.
Sporting have everything to play for with the revelation that taking a point at Stamford Bridge will see them secure their own place within the last 16 phase of the tournament and early team news seems to favour the Portuguese side after reports that Chelsea will not be fielding their strongest starting line up.
With at least a point to spare, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is thought to be set to rest trio John Terry, Eden Hazard and Willian from the fixture as he looks to take a look towards the domestic league after his side allowed a points gap to become little more than just three points over the weekend after slipping up against Newcastle United.
With the news that the experienced trio will be given the night off, Chelsea have also shown an interest in offering England under 19’s international Ruben Loftus-Cheek the chance to feature as Mourinho looks towards the demanding six game schedule that his side have ahead of them in the next 18 days.
If the loss of Terry, Willian and playmaker Hazard was not enough for Mourinho, the fact that midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic are also ruled out of contention will be sure to spur the Portuguese side towards the belief that they can secure the point that they need to qualify tomorrow night.
After their first loss of the season over the weekend away at Newcastle United, Chelsea boss Mourinho was keen to reveal that the result would have “no effect” on his players tomorrow night, admitting at a pre-game press conference that the fixture allowed him to rest some of his key players ahead of their upcoming fixtures.
As Mourinho considers the changes that he will make to allow his players to regroup before upcoming games, it is believed that Petr Cech will be recalled to the starting eleven, a change that any manager would be more than happy to make given the chance.
Sporting Lisbon will be heading to Stamford Bridge knowing that The Blues will not be at full strength and will be hoping to catch the Premier League side resting on the fact that they are playing the fixture with nothing to gain however betting experts believe that they could avoid the desire to come to England to attack and indicate that they think that the visitors could be looking to play for a point rather than showing the attacking desire to take the game to the current English leaders.
Gary Johnson from MobileSportsbookApps.com spoke to us to share his thoughts on the betting trends that he is seeing occurring and “it seems that although Chelsea were originally the hot favourites to romp to a victory, the chances and lack of reward to play for could well see a shift in the way that punters are betting.”
Johnson himself also admitted that he thought the chance of an upset could well be on the cards, saying “Chelsea are tired and there is no doubt that they have a string of games that they need to win in coming weeks, so you have to question whether the more frequent performers are going to allow their game to drop in a game where they have nothing to aim for with the knowledge that regardless of their result, they are in the last 16 phase.”