Liverpool (+˝, -145) at Chelsea (-˝, +135) (ESPN2, 11:45 a.m. PT): It’s the Reds against the Blues again, this time from west London and the winner can be the first to punch its’ ticket for Russia in a month. The lads from Liverpool were the only team to actually put the ball in the net in Leg 1 – one on purpose and one by accident late in extra time on an own goal on a defensive header by substitute John Arne Riise which left the packed crowd at Anfield stunned (1-1). That away goal by Chelsea may play a big factor in keeping the Reds from advancing to the championship match May 21 in Moscow.
Chelsea has not lost to Liverpool in their last four meetings, but has won only once (three ties), a 2-0 shutout of the Reds in the Carling Cup at Stamford Bridge in December. The Blues best players are Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack and with that free momentum provided by Liverpool’s late own goal, may actually be able to put one of their own in at home today.
Can one expect Liverpool – the biggest underdogs of the four UEFA Champions League finalists – to score at Chelsea? Recent history says no as the Reds have now gone scoreless eight straight matches at Stamford Bridge and goalie Petr Cech should be up for the challenge. Liverpool looks to Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt – who has seven goals in 11 European ties this term – for goals and will need to try and get one early on to wash the reality of that own goal in Leg 1 away for the time being. This game could end 1-0 with Chelsea finding a way to please the home crowd, but a draw would also suit the Blues – but not the bettors of this Las Vegas Hilton line – just fine. CHELSEA -˝.