Chelsea’s eighth Premier League defeat of a catastrophic season to date has ensured Porto’s Champions League visit on matchday six takes on even more significance than it usually would, specifically where Jose Mourinho’s iffy-looking future is concerned.
The more the losses column fills, the more the stakes increase from one match to another for Chelsea’s beleaguered boss, though this crunch European tie offers Mourinho a gilt-edged chance at some welcome respite.
A win for Chelsea and they will enter the knockout draw as Group G winners, the draw will see them through, but in second, while a loss most probably equals Champions League oblivion, given Dynamo Kiev face pointless Maccabi Tel Aviv who have nothing at all to play for in the other match.
Although their Premier League title defence is in ruins, there are reasons for optimism that by the final whistle Chelsea will at last have something to celebrate at Stamford Bridge in the form of a 19/20-rated victory.
History is on Chelsea’s side in more ways than one
Despite their woeful domestic campaign, Mourinho’s men have at least taken maximum points at home in Europe this term and boast a 100 per cent record against Portuguese opposition in west London over the years.
The Blues have won all five encounters at the Bridge and although Julen Lopetegui’s men have picked up four points from their pair of away matches in the group, the 2-0 home loss to Dynamo last time out can only have rocked the boat ahead of this trip.
Over 12 group-stage campaigns, the English club have booked their last-16 spots as winners nine times, been runners-up twice and only ever failed to make a safe passage once.
Chelsea’s application, if not the results, have improved markedly in recent weeks as well and if Mourinho’s underperforming stars cannot raise their games an extra notch or two in this cup final atmosphere, then their leader may as well resign before kick-off.
Willian the free-kick scoring man for Blues
Willian has been Chelsea’s go-to man in the competition with his unerring accuracy from free-kicks almost as astonishing as the team’s collective woes – scoring four times from dead balls so far.
The Brazilian is a 15/2 chance to set the scoreboard rolling and could well be the best exponent of Ladbrokes *Double Odds 1st Goalscorer promotion.
The bookmakers are also bumping up the odds on Chelsea to win a game in which both teams find the net from 7/2 out to 9/2.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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