Chelsea v FC Porto, Champions League, September 15, 2009
With Chelseaâ€™s two previous Champions League exits ending with the indelible memories of John Terry with tears down his face in Moscow and Didier Drogba calling Tom Ovrebo a â€œf****** disgrace,â€ let the fireworks begin on Roman Abramovichâ€™s quest for the cup with the big ears.
The links between the Blues and Porto seem numerous, and it isnâ€™t just Jose Mourinho. Five of the Blues first team squad spent time at Estadio do Dragao, including Carvalho, Ferreira, Hilario, Bosingwa and Deco (5/1 to score).
These two clubs have also met four times in this competition since 2005. They both picked up three points in the group stages of the competition in 2004/2005 whilst the Blues saw off the Portuguese side 3-2 on aggregate in the first knockout round in 2006/2007.
Whilst Chelsea usually start their Champions League group campaign with a win (five out of the last seven years), Porto, as ever, come into this match on the back of some fine domestic form.
After winning the Super Cup with a 2-0 win over Pacos de Ferreira, Porto have gone on to pick up ten points from a possible 12 in the Portuguese Liga. Their most recent game was a comfortable 4-1 win over Leixoes and four different goal scorers gives an inkling into why Porto continue to dominate at home, and punch their weight abroad, season after season.
Porto were busy during the summer and saw probably their three best players depart to France. Aly Cissokho, Lisandro Lopez (both to Lyon) and Lucho Gonzalez (to Marseille) left the club for a combined total of 57 million euros. In their place came some highly-rated attacking players such as Fernando Belluschi (11/2 to score), Radamel Falcao (9/1 to score first) and Orlando Sa, who was long rumoured to be a target of Frank Arnesen and his scouting staff.
Despite being linked with a host of major clubs around Europe, Bruno Alves (8/1 to score) is still at the heart of the Porto defence and he will have his hands full with Nicolas Anelka. In attack new signing Falcao has scored four in four in the league and we may also get another glimpse of the tabloid journalistâ€™s dream striker: Brazilian Hulk (4/1 to score) (donâ€™t make him angry etcâ€¦)
Jesualdo Ferreiraâ€™s side will now doubt be well drilled and technically proficient on the ball, whether diminutive attacking players such as Falcao and Belluschi will be effective against the physical Chelsea defence seems a lot less likely.
Chelsea will be bouyed by their late winner at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday and it is difficult to pick holes in Carlo Ancelottiâ€™s side so far this campaign. It takes a brave manager to start Michael Essien (11/2 to score) on the bench at Stoke, but the Italian has got everything right so far and the Blues should be too strong for Porto.
101gg predicts: Chelsea 2 â€“ FC Porto 0 (9/2)
Full match odds here.