The first leg of the Carabao Cup semifinal between Middlesbrough and Chelsea kicks off Tuesday as both sides eye a spot in the final at Wembley.
Boro are the final lower league side remaining in the competition, with Premier League clubs Liverpool and Fulham set to clash for the other spot in the title match. While they sit 12th in the Championship, four points off the crowded playoff push, Boro will likely prioritise this chance for glory so close to the trophy.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have finally begun to show signs of improvement under Mauricio Pochettino, but they remain vulnerable to defensive lapses, something Middlesbrough will be keen to capitalise on.
A lower-league team has never won the EFL Cup, and none has made the final since League Two side Bradford City’s sensational run to Wembley in 2013.
Middlesbrough vs Chelsea prediction, odds
- Moneyline lean: Chelsea (-180)
- Score prediction: Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea
Chelsea will have a tougher time with Middlesbrough, a talented and well-coached team, than they did with Preston North End in their weekend FA Cup match, but should still progress to the second leg with a slight advantage.
to score Y/N
|-160 / +120
|Over / Under
|-170 / +130
Middlesbrough vs Chelsea match facts
- Date: Tues, Jan. 9, 2024
- Kickoff Time: 8 p.m. local (3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT)
- Location: Riverside Stadium (Middlesbrough, England)
- Referee: Sam Barrott, VAR: John Brooks
- Last meeting: Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea (Mar. 19, 2022 | FA Cup)
Middlesbrough vs Chelsea best bet
Middlesbrough have been let down by poor goalkeeping at multiple points this season, as Thomas Glover has struggled, sporting a -4.3 goals/xG differential, in the bottom third of the Championship. Yet even such, Boro have been unlucky to concede 39 goals this year, as opponents have struck for 7.8 more goals than the club’s xG allowed.
Chelsea are starting to turn the screw in the attacking third in recent weeks, underlying their ability to finally grasp Mauricio Pochettino’s style and tactical approach, but they still struggle to finish chances on the whole.
Middlesbrough held a quality Aston Villa side to just a 1-0 victory on an 87th minute Matty Cash goal in their FA Cup matchup this weekend. Here, Boro will know that in a two-leg semifinal matchup, a similar result against Chelsea would still give them a chance for an upset in the ensuing matchup at Stamford Bridge, and thus will play things very defensive.
Middlesbrough vs Chelsea prop bet
- Pick: Under 9.5 total corners
- Odds: +105 (DraftKings)
While Chelsea should be expected to attack Middlesbrough throughout the 90 minutes, they are not a vertical attacking side. They held 70 percent possession against Preston North End and ripped off a gargantuan 24 shots, and still only collected eight corners.
The Blues are not amongst the Premier League leaders in this category, sitting 10th with 101 corners on the year, 57 behind leaders Arsenal. On the flip side, Middlesbrough collect the fourth-most corners in the Championship, but will be expected to have little possession as they defend in chunks throughout this first leg. They concede just 4.6 corners per game, and thus should be well prepared not to give up too many set-piece chances.
Middlesbrough vs Chelsea live stream, TV channel
|Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Football
|Sky GO Extra
Like the FA Cup, the EFL Cup is broadcast in the United States exclusively on streaming service ESPN+, including this semifinal first leg.
DAZN are the official broadcast partners of the EFL Cup in Canada, while in the UK the match will be shown on Sky Sports platforms.