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Rupert Wyman 8th Dec 2008 - 9:35

Cluj to lack bite against Chelsea

Tiny Cluj from Transylvania in Romania face Chelsea in their last match of this year's Champions League.

Cluj are already out of the competition after only collecting four points from their five matches so far. The Romanians started their first ever Champions League campaign promisingly with a win away against Roma in the Stadio Olimpico followed by a goalless draw at home to Chelsea.

However, since then Maurizio Trombetta's side have lost three consecutive matches to leave them bottom of the group with no chance of qualifying for the next round.

Last year's finalists Chelsea have endured a rather disappointing Champions League so far by their own high standards. The Blues could only draw 1-1 away at Bordeaux last time out and in the process had star midfielder Frank Lampard sent off. As a result the Englishman will be missing from the Cluj match.

Portuguese midfielder Deco was absent from the Bordeaux match as he himself was dismissed in the previous match away at Roma. Chelsea were poor in a 3-1 defeat to the Italians and ever since then their passage to the next round has not been all that secure.

As a result of their indifferent form in the Champions League Chelsea have drifted in the outright betting. Phil Scolari's side were favourites to go one better than last year but have now drifted to 5/1 second favourites behind Barcelona.

Chelsea go into the match with Cluj needing a win to guarantee their passage to the knockout stages. Anything other than the three points and their fate will be out of their control and dependent on the result between Roma and Bordeaux.

Chelsea should therefore be going all-out for victory and it would take a brave man to bet against the 1/8 for a Chelsea win. People would be forgiven for being wary of backing Chelsea at home as they only have 12 points from eight matches at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League this season which would make you consider the 5/1 that is available for the draw or even the 14/1 about an away win.

On the other hand though Chelsea have not lost at home in the Champions League in 14 matches and this should continue against Cluj.

Nevertheless the 1/8 about a home win is not value and it is elsewhere we must look for better value betting opportunities. A scoreline of 2-0 to Chelsea looks like the one to back in the correct score betting at odds of 5/1.

Chelsea's leading scorer Nicolas Anelka is available to be backed at 11/4 to score first or 8/13 anytime. The 11/4 looks the better bet of the two as the Frenchman could well repeat his first goal scoring antics that were on display away at Bolton on Saturday.

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