Why experts are betting on Real Madrid over Chelsea in this friendly?
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, United States
Key Stat: With there being no useful data to analyse concerning the two teams facing each other, the most interesting stat concerns attendance. When Real faced Manchester United in 2014 at this stadium, ‘The Big House’, they set a U.S. soccer attendance record with 109,318 fans turning up. Can it be bettered this time out?
Expert Verdict: Friendlies aren’t always the most impassioned and competitive games. They also tell us very little about upcoming seasons and team’s performance levels. But they’re fun. We expect an open game. But with Italian defensive god Antonio Conte at the Chelsea controls, not too open. Chelsea to win. By a narrow margin. We’re going 2-1.
Real Madrid, as you know, is a big football club. The biggest on the planet, arguably. They have a large amount of resources. And a huge squad. So they’re never worried about not being able to field eleven good players for any game. Even in close season. Which is useful for them and their fans as they’ll be facing Antonio Conte’s Chelsea in Michigan on Saturday July 30th without a huge raft of star names.
Sergio Ramos, Lucas Vasquez, Toni Kroos, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic… None of them have travelled to the United States. Pepe and Cristiano Ronaldo are absent too. The are thinking surely being about fatigue after a tiring European Championship recently. So expect a fairly changed side from the one that will line up on the first day of the La Liga season.
Navas, Carvajal, Nacho, Vallejo, Danilo, Asensio, Isco, Casemiro, Rodriguez, Jese, Benzema
The Blues’ foray into the 2016 International Champions Cup - which this game is a part of - should see them field a few more stars than their opponents. With the start of the Premier League so close and a new manager in place, Jose Mourinho’s old club will be looking to improve hugely on last season’s poor performance and start 2016/17 with a bang. They’ll look to do that with a few wins in America.
Captain John Terry, Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, Cesar Azpilicueta, Pedro and new signing Michy Batshuayi were among those on the plane over to Ann Arbour. All can expect to play a part, either from kick off or off the bench.
Courtois, Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta, Loftus-Cheek, Matic, Willian, Hazard, Costa, Batshuayi.
Strangely enough, there have only ever been three competitive games between these two sides. Why? Well, the West London club’s emergence as a force in European and world football has only really come about since Russian oil oligarch and owner Roman Abramovich took the reigns. Before then, Chelsea’s time in European club competitions had been fairly limited. The last time they met was in the UEFA Super Cup final back in 1998, a game which ended 1-0 to Chelsea. Before then? A UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup Final back in 1971. The first tie ended 1-1, the replay saw Rea l Madrid lose out 2-1.
"We know that it will be a pre-season game. It will be a big test for us and it will be an opportunity to prepare as much as we can before an important and long season," said Chelsea ambassador Paulo Ferreira. “Especially to play against such a big side will be fantastic. We know it's a friendly game and tournament, but we'll want to give our best," he went on. And we think they’ll win it. They’re an outside shot, but pre-season friendlies often go against the odds. We think Chelsea will nick this by the odd goal.
It's a friendly, so don’t bet big. But if you’re excited about the new season, fancy watching two of Europe’s biggest clubs clash and want a little interest, our suggestion is a nibble on the London club. At a best priced 3/1, we think that represents really good value. The bookies are hedging their bets, assuming the majority of bets for Real will be by fans, American or otherwise. But the value? It’s in Chelsea.