Villas-Boas preparing for first step towards his Chelsea legacy
Andre Villas-Boas arrived at Chelsea knowing that winning the Champions League would ensure his legacy at the club and give him a massive one up on former mentor Jose Mourinho.
In three seasons at Chelsea, Mourinho did manage to fill the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet, but not with the one piece of silverware that owner Roman Abramovich desperately wanted.
Other managers have come and failed in the same quest since, but there is optimism in the air that Villas-Boas is the man for the job.
The former Porto manager has made a decent start to life as Chelsea boss, going about his business in a fairly quiet way to sit just off the scintillating Premier League pace being set by title rivals Manchester United and Manchester City.
Next for Villas-Boas may be a break from domestic action, but there will be no relieving of any pressure as Chelsea prepare for their first test in this season’s Champions League.
Chelsea have topped their Champions League group in six of the last eight seasons and will want to get off to the perfect start when they host Bayer Leverkusen first in Group E this time.
They triumphed in all of their three group home games last season and have won seven of their last nine opening group fixtures in the Champions League.
Chelsea’s odds are 4/9 to beat Leverkusen and make it six successive unbeaten home games against German opposition.
After a six-season absence, Leverkusen return to the Champions League and have a dreadful record in England to overcome, with five defeats and a draw from their six trips.
Michael Ballack also returns to Stamford Bridge with his current club and it is 7/1 that he can inspire a Leverkusen win.
Valencia look the biggest threat to Chelsea topping the group and they begin their campaign away to Belgian minnows Genk.
The Champions League odds have Genk at 4/1 to seal what would be a surprise victory, with Valencia 8/11 to triumph.