Eintracht Frankfurt vs ChelseaUEFA Europa League, KO: 20:00 May 2, 2019, Commerzbank-Arena
CHELSEA have sailed through to the Europa League semi-finals but now face their first potential banana skin on the road to Baku in the shape of Eintracht Frankfurt.
Maurizio Sarri's men are unbeaten in Europe's consolation cup this season and as such are 31/20 (BetVictor) favourites to make it 12 wins from 13 in Germany. A Frankfurt win on Thursday night is ever so slightly more profitable at 19/10 (BetVictor) whereas the draw is a general 23/10 with most bookmakers.
Chelsea head for central Germany on the back of two consecutive draws against Burnley and Manchester United respectively. Despite those dropped points the West London side occupy fourth place in the Premier League ahead of the penultimate weekend of the season.
However, with two tricky league fixtures still to come, coupled with the race for Champions League qualification hotting up, the Blues will be conscious that Europa League glory would guarantee a return to Europe's elite club completion next season.
Funnily enough Frankurt themselves have drawn their last two league games, occupy fourth place domestically and are also embroiled in a four-way battle to qualify for next season's Champions League.
However, unlike Chelsea the Bundesliga side have revelled in their run to the final four having eye-catchingly conquered the likes of Lazio, Marseille, Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan and Benfica on route to the semi-final.
Serbian striker Luka Jovic has been the cornerstone of Frankfurt's fantastic season having banged in 17 Bundesliga goals as well as a notable eight goals in the Europa League. Jovic's fine form both domestically and on the continent has demonstrated why he is being touted for a summer transfer to a European super club.
The talented 21-year-old has however gone four games without finding the net, but I think he can rediscover his goal scoring touch against a Blues defence who will be without the injured Antonio Rudiger.
Only Olivier Giroud has scored more goals in this season's Europa League after taking his tally to 10 against Slavia Prague. The French forward tends to feature more frequently in Europe under Sarri and may be worth considering to score if you're looking to back a Blues goalscorer.
Chelsea are more than capable of grabbing a vital away goal at the Commerzbank-Arena however they will have their work cut out in containing a Frankfurt side who have found the net no fewer than 28 times in their thrilling run to the semi-finals.
Shutting out the home side will be a tall order for Chelsea and if Adi Hutter deploys his traditional 3-5-2 system then it could spell trouble for the Londoners narrow midfield three.
In conjunction with that there may be value in backing Chelsea anchorman Jorginho to fall foul to ill-discipline. The Italian midfielder is no stranger to a booking having been shown a yellow card on no fewer than seven occasions this season. Back the Blues midfielder to be carded again at a generous 6/1 (UniBet).
Jorginho and his Chelsea teammates will also have to try and overcome what will almost certainly be an ear-popping and hostile home support. The Germans are this seasons surprise package in the Europa League and will not be phased at the prospect of sending Sarri's side packing given the impressive scalps they have taken.
Furthermore Frankfurt are unbeaten at home in their last 12 Europa League ties and I think the Bundesliga side can make it an unlucky 13 for Chelsea's on Thursday night.
Sarri's side may be undefeated in Europe this season but they have been unconvincing. Frankfurt can give Chelsea a Thursday night fright and I'm going to be bold and back Die Adler to win on the night at 19/10 (BetVictor) and head to London next week with a first-leg lead.
This UEFA Europa League match between Eintracht Frankfurt and Chelsea will be played on May 2, 2019 and kick off at 20:00