EFL CUP: MIDDLESBROUGH VS CHELSEA SEMI FINAL CLASH FIRST LEG

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This season’s EFL Cup will see the Riverside Stadium see Premier League play when Chelsea, led by Mauricio Pochettino, visits the city. We have a preview and prediction for the Middlesbrough vs. Chelsea EFL Cup semi-final first leg.

Preview of the Match
When Middlesbrough hosts Chelsea of the Premier League at the Riverside Stadium on Tuesday night, they will take on their toughest League Cup challenge of the season. Although Michael Carrick’s team has advanced to their first EFL Cup semi-final since the 2003–04 season, they have not yet faced elite competition in this year’s tournament. Nevertheless, Boro’s remarkable run has seen them play five straight away games en route to the semifinals, with a minimum of two goals scored in each contest.

Morgan Rogers, the top scorer in the EFL Cup for Middlesbrough, is one of the casualties of that victory against Port Vale. In their 3-0 quarterfinal victory, he not only scored but also received a booking, which means he will miss the first leg of the match due to a one-game suspension. This season, Rogers has flourished in the competition, recording a goal in each of his previous four such games and dishing out two assists during that streak. Fabrizio Ravanelli scored nine goals for the team in the 1996–97 EFL Cup, which was the last time a player scored more than Rogers’ four.

Although Boro enters this match after two straight losses, they played a competitive game against Aston Villa, a Premier League team, in their FA Cup third-round matchup last weekend. After holding out for eighty-seven minutes, Carrick’s team was finally defeated by a deflected goal from Matty Cash. Overall, the home team put on a strong performance, holding Villa to only 0.75 anticipated goals, which is their fifth-lowest total in any game this season across all competitions.

They should also be encouraged by the fact that they have advanced from each of their previous three competition semi-final matches, which were in 1996–1997, 1997–1998 and in their most recent campaign, 2003–04, where they defeated Arsenal en route to winning the entire competition.

Speaking of the Chelsea manager, Pochettino has never lost in the EFL Cup (W9 D2) against teams in the lower tier, however one of those two draws—a penalty shootout loss against Colchester United in September 2019 with Spurs—did end in a penalty shootout. Chelsea, on the other hand, has scored 53 goals in winning all 15 of their EFL Cup games against teams from lower divisions.

AFC Wimbledon, Brighton, Blackburn Rovers, and Newcastle United have all been eliminated by the Blues during their EFL run, all from the comfort of Stamford Bridge.

In other team news, Christopher Nkunku will not play for Chelsea after missing the match against Preston due to a hip injury, while Nicolas Jackson will not play for Chelsea because of his AFCON call-up. The full-backs Trevoh Chalobah, Roméo Lavia, Robert Sanchez, and Marc Cucurella are still sidelined.

In addition to losing Seny Dieng to the Africa Cup of Nations, Riley McGree to the Asian Cup, and Samuel Silvera and Riley McGree to international duty, Michael Carrick will be missing the suspended Rogers, Finn Azaz and Sam Greenwood.

Middlesbrough vs Chelsea Head-to-Head

In the recent past, this interaction has been quite one-sided. In all nine of their previous encounters, Chelsea has defeated Middlesbrough by an overall score of 21-0. Only Liverpool has defeated an opponent more times in English football history while maintaining a perfect record (10 vs. West Bromwich Albion between 1997 and 2010).

This will be Middlesbrough’s (one victory) and Chelsea’s (two wins) fourth EFL Cup encounter; in each previous meeting, Middlesbrough was in the second division while Chelsea was in the top flight. This is their first encounter since the Blues won 2-0 at Wembley in the 1998 championship.

The most recent meeting between the two teams took place in an FA Cup quarterfinal in 2022. Romelu Lukaku and Hakim Ziyech scored goals to help Chelsea win 2-0 that day.

Current Form
This season, Middlesbrough has scored three goals in four of their five EFL Cup games so far, scoring at least twice in each of the other five. That may be reason for concern, though, as this will be their last home game in the tournament this season. The Riverside Stadium hasn’t exactly been a stronghold lately, as Boro has dropped four of their previous five home games and given up eight goals during that run.

Chelsea enters this game fresh off three wins in a row in all competitions, scoring at least twice in each. Expect them to go all out here, especially since winning the EFL Cup could be their best chance to get into Europe this season, given their unsteady league record thus far.

If Chelsea defeats Middlesbrough here, they will have advanced far in the Carabao Cup. The Blues are favorites to win the second leg at Stamford Bridge since they emerged victorious in 59.6% of the simulations of this match conducted by the Opta supercomputer.

But Boro can match Premier League opponents head-to-head, as they showed against Aston Villa, and they have a 19.5% probability of pulling off a shock.The draw, which you believe would not be too problematic for either side, comes in at 20.8%.

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