By Josh Powell | Chelsea v Benfica, Europa League Final
Chelsea face Benfica in tonight’s Europa League Final as they attempt to become the first club ever to hold the Champions League title and the Europa League title at the same time. It might only be for 10 days but expect some fans to have it hastily written on a bed sheet in black marker before they face Everton on Sunday.
The Champions League’s less attractive sister might not get the pulses racing but it saves you from a Wednesday evening of Coronation Street and Made In Chelsea repeats so we can’t complain.
Throw in the chances of making some money off the back of it and making a truckload of John Terry jokes and we’re definitely sold.
We’ve rooted through the teams’ record this season and their history in European Finals over the last 25 years to put together the trends for tonight’s best bets. To make our job easier Paddy is refunding selected losing bets if serial Euro-goal hogger Oscar nets during the 90 minutes.
That way your wallet might not necessarily feel the hit with our dubious tipping.
Under 2.5 goals – 4/6
It is a short enough price but the trends are hard to ignore. Four of the last five Europa League finals have had under 2.5 goals in 90 minutes, as have four of the last five Champions League Finals. Barcelona’s 3-0 mauling of Manchester United is a stand-out exception. To further hammer home this bet these clubs have competed in five European Finals since 1988 and all five of them have had under 2.5 goals.
Half-time result is a draw – Evens
Again it might not be the biggest price but the stats say it can’t fail and plenty of people in Power Tower are backing it. The same people also said Hear’Say were going to dominate the charts and Eric Djemba Djemba was world-class so don’t take that as gospel. What you can’t argue with is that the five finals these sides have competed in during the last 25 years have all been level at the break and four of the last six Europa League finals have been all square at the oranges.
Lampard to score anytime – 16/5
Chelsea will be led onto the pitch by their captain for the night Frank Lampard. Super Frank notched his 203rd Chelsea goal against Aston Villa to make him the club’s record goalscorer. There are reports of a one-year deal with the Blues in the making and a goal tonight would help dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Lamps hasn’t scored in Europe yet this season but is Chelsea’s leading scorer for the season. He has history of scoring in European Finals with his equaliser in 2008 against United so if you’re a horses for courses kind of punter, Frank is your man.
Correct score 1-1 – 5/1
The last 1-1 draw in a Europa League Final was in 1994 when it was still played over two legs and the BBC hadn’t inflicted The Vicar Of Dibley on the nation yet. Parma drew 1-1 with Juventus in the San Siro for the all the stat-fans out there. This season both Chelsea and Benfica have played a combined 111 games in all competitions and just the five have ended 1-1, which is 4.5 per cent. Despite all this Chelsea’s last two European finals have ended 1-1 and a low scoring draw is appealing.
Half-time 0-0, Full-time Chelsea 1-0 – 11/1
As mentioned above all five of the European Finals these clubs have competed in during the last 25 years have been level at the break. Of these, 80 per cent of them have been 0-0 at the oranges and in a tight game it could be scoreless at the break again with Chelsea getting a winner after a Rafa team-talk. 10 of Chelsea’s 15 goals in the Europa League have come in the second 45 minutes and more than 70 per cent of the goals Benfica have conceded in the Europa League this year have come after the break.