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Michael Taylor 24th Nov 2009 - 16:43

Hulk can rip through Chelsea's rearguard

Chelsea may be running away from the pack in the Premier League but on Wednesday night they may find topping their Champions League group is a whole new matter, especially if star striker Hulk has anything to do with it.

FC Porto, winners of the Portuguese Liga Sagres for past the past four years, are hot on the trail of Carlo Ancelotti's Blues in Group D and a win would put them in pole position to grab the all-important seeding for the knockout stages.

Jesualdo Ferreira's side may not have all the star names of their English counterparts but in South American duo Hulk and Falcao they have one of the most feared strike partnerships in Europe.

After watching the well drilled Portuguese both domestically and in the Champions League you just cannot help but be impressed with the contributions of the front men.

Their movement, speed, skill and understanding is the basis for pretty much everything good the Dragoes do with the ball and is more than enough to create openings against John Terry and Alex.

The pair have been coupled together at 5/1 to get on the scoresheet and while Chelsea are usually tight at the back they have come under a fair bit of pressure on their travels under Ancelotti.

Don't get me wrong though, it will in no way be a romp for the home side.

The Blues are showing more and more signs of becoming the same formidable force that saw them dominate English football for so many years under Jose Mourinho.

Didier Drogba has stopped sulking and has emerged once again as one of the best strikers on the planet, Nicolas Anelka seems happy to work his socks off for the team and the depth of their squad just cannot be matched.

At the weekend they were missing Lampard, Carvalho, Bosingwa, Drogba, Deco and Ballack yet they never looked under even the remotest pressure as they battered Wolves into submission at the Bridge.

The bad news for Porto is that Drogba, Deco and Ballack could all return and bring even more stability and strength to what is already the most physically intimidating team in the Champions League.

Drogba remains the main man thanks to a brilliant return of 7 goals in his past 8 appearances, and I certainly wouldn't be laying him at 5/4 to score anytime, while Michael Essien for me is the complete midfield man.

I'm not sure he'll get the same time to break forward here but he will need to be at his very best in protecting the back four and not allowing the likes of Christian Rodriguez and Raul Meireles to dictate the pace of the game.

However, for the first time this season, I'm not 100% convinced that Chelsea will be able to walk away from a game with three points.

As Everton found to their peril in falling to Benfica, the Portuguese league has come on leaps and bounds over the past few years and Porto are easily capable of taking the game to the Blues.

Obviously the first goal is all important but if the home side gets in then I firmly believe they can go on to occupy top spot going into the final round of group games.

If they do manage to inflict Ancelotti to a first Champions League defeat as Chelsea manager then you'll get paid out at 19/10, and in front of a raucous home support it is more than possible.

And in terms of correct score betting I'm most drawn to 2-1 at 8/1 in a match that is sure to be finely balanced for the entire 90 minutes.



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