Ancelotti’s Blues should cruise past Porto
If expectation around Stamford Bridge was high heading into this season then Carlo Ancelotti has certainly lived up to the hype and, despite a shift into European competition, this Tuesday should see the winning run move to seven games.
Chelsea begin their Champions League campaign with a potential banana-skin home tie against Portuguese giants Porto but, after the initial stages of the season, it seems it'll take more than a potential shock to break down the Blues.
With Nicolas Anelka at the top of his game and a supporting cast of Ballack, Essien, Lampard and Malouda all willing to put in shifts, you can see why everybody has touted them as the team to beat this season.
If Porto do somehow manage to find a way to beat them then you can be rewarded at a massive 7/1 but I may have to question why the bet was made in the first place.
I'd much rather go for the sensible option and back Chelsea at a short but reasonable 1/3, especially when you consider Ancelotti's tactical nous in European competition.
After all it was the fact Ancelotti has already masterminded two Champions League titles this decade that Roman Abramovich was so desperate to snap up the former AC Milan and Roma supremo.
Despite my strong feelings towards a home win I still don't expect Porto to simply roll over without a fight though.
In former Japanese J-League star Hulk they have a player who can genuinely be considered a main threat given the fireworks he displayed in his terrific first season in Portugal.
He has pace and skill and if he doesn't choke, which he did in last season's Champions League campaign, then he is sure to cause John Terry at least a few problems.
He looks a more than solid 4/1 shot to score at anytime and, if anyone can breach Chelsea's brilliant backline, then Hulk definitely looks the best option.
However, the Blues will surely have too much class all over the pitch and, despite the absence of Didier Drogba, they should have little trouble in putting pressure on the often erratic Helton.
Anelka is unsurprisingly the favourite at 10/3 to open the scoring but I much prefer the look of Michael Ballack at an enormous 11/1.
The German always looks a threat from the middle of the park and his presence will be especially vital if the Portuguese defend deep and look for the draw or go on the counter attack - you always have the hope that he can score from free kicks as well.
I do expect Porto to defend deep and I also expect Chelsea to score but it will be close, making the 1-0 and 2-0 Chelsea correct score bets look interesting at 5/1 and 9/2 respectively.
It might not be pretty to watch but the Chelsea and Ancelotti way should see the Blues get off to a dream start in the hunt for an elusive Champions League trophy.