13th of February 2019 Author: Johnny Karp
Premier League side Chelsea face a tricky trip to Sweden on Thursday as they face Malmo FF at Swedbank Stadium in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League last-32 tie. This will be the first meeting between these two teams in an international competition. Malmo have met English teams on five occasions in European competitions and they have won just once. The biggest match in the history of the Swedish club was the 1979 European Champions' Cup final, which they lost against Nottingham Forest. Chelsea have played four times against Swedish teams, they won just once and drew the other three matches.
Thursday's match is a proud moment for Malmo, they have absolutely nothing to lose after having reached the last 32 of an European competition for the first time since 1987. They were very hard to beat in the group stage, they lost just one of their six matches and eventually managed to finish second behind Belgian side Genk. Their disadvantage is that the Swedish league has season has ended in November, and they have only played four friendly matches in 2019. Adi Nalic, Anel Ahmedhodzic and Dusan Melicharek have been signed in January to reinforce the squad, while head coach Uwe Rosler doesn't have any injury concerns ahead of this match.
Chelsea have a lot to do in order to redeem themselves in front of the fans, they got hammered 6-0 at Manchester City last weekend and it seems they might miss out on a top-four Premier League finish once again. That was their second consecutive high-scoring defeat away from home after the 4-0 loss at Bournemouth at the end of January, and it seems manager Maurizio Sarri has lost the trust of his players. The Italian boss will most likely make significant changes to his starting eleven for this match, and some of those changes might become permanent if things turn out well in Thursday's game.
Malmo: Dahlin - Nielsen, Bengtsson, Safari - Vindheim, Christiansen, Bachirou, Lewicki, Rieks - Rosenberg, Antonsson
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga - Azpilicueta, Cahill, Christensen, Emerson - Kante, Ampadu, Kovacic - Loftus-Cheek, Higuain, Willian
My prediction: Chelsea to win 2-1, the Blues should try harder than usual to win this game.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Malmo win - 10.00
Draw - 4.75
Chelsea win - 1.40
13th of February 2019
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