The Blues could find themselves making unwanted history in the Champions League, while Celtic have far greater hopes of making the Round of 16
|By PAUL GOUGH
The punters are convinced that Chelsea will chalk up another slice of unwanted history on Wednesday [Thursday morning Australian time] by becoming the first defending champions to bow out in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.
The Blues are already on their worst run of form in the English Premier League since 1995, having failed to win any of their past seven matches to slump from first to third and some 10 points behind leaders Manchester United.
And now they are facing the ignominy of failing to get out of the group stages of the Champions League since first qualifying for the competition in 2003-04.
The Blues, and new manager Rafa Benitez, head into the final round of matches in Group E on on seven points in third spot and face the prospect of being demoted to the Europa League, with Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk on 10 points and Italian champions Juventus on nine.
Shakhtar are already guaranteed to progress and Juventus only need to draw in their final game against the group leaders in Donetsk to join them, regardless of how Chelsea fare at home to Danish minnows Nordsjaelland.
And the punters are convinced that is exactly what will happen.
While the draw is usually the least-backed option in most major football matches, the draw in the Shakhtar-Juventus game - to guarantee Shakhtar top the group - is the $1.95 favourite at Betfair and has attracted over 80 percent of money wagered on the match.
The home side are paying $3.75 for a win and Juventus $4.50, with punters believing the two sides will merely go through the motions to ensure the elimination of Chelsea, who are $1.12 favourites to win at home against the Danish side at $37.
|Shakhtar and Juventus to draw at $1.95 at Betfair
||Celtic and Spartak Moscow to draw at $4.50 at Betfair|
In contrast, Scottish giants Celtic have their hopes of reaching the knockout stages in the Champions League for the first time in five years in their own hands.
Celtic are level in second place in Group G with Benfica on seven points, with group leaders and tournament favourites Barcelona on 12 and already through to the Round of 16.
But while Benfica face the daunting prospect of travelling to Barcelona, Celtic are at home to already-eliminated Russian side Spartak Moscow in their final group game.
A draw will be enough for Celtic to advance if Benfica lose as expected to Barcelona.
And with Scottish teams rarely doing anything the easy way, Celtic to advance to the knockout stage with a nail-biting draw might just be the way to go in this match with the draw paying a tempting $4.50 at Betfair.
Group F is already decided, with Bayern Munich and Valencia already through to the Round of 16 and both again favourites to win their final group matches.
In Group G, Manchester United are already through and are the $1.70 favourites to win at home to Romanian side CFR Cluj at $5.80.
Cluj are level on points with Turkish club Galatasaray in the battle for second spot, but the Istanbul side should progress by getting at least a draw away to already eliminated Braga at $3.40 with Betfair, with Braga paying $3.35 for the win and Galatasaray $2.36.
*Note prices subject to change