Chelsea will be hoping to seal their place in the last 16 of the Champions League by avoiding defeat against FC Porto, who need a win to secure their progress.
The standings in Group G are the most complicated of any group, with Chelsea on top despite having lost to the Portuguese club in the reverse fixture. This is because Dynamo Kiev, who sit two points behind the leading duo, have taken four points from their two matches against Porto and so will go above them should they win – as expected – at home to Maccabi Tel-Aviv and this match ends all square.
There is pressure on both sides here, and it promises to be a tense atmosphere at Stamford Bridge with the hosts finding the going tough almost every time they take to the field. The supporters no longer turn up expecting their team to take three points, with promoted Bournemouth having left with all three points on Saturday to deal another crippling blow to Jose Mourinho and his beleaguered team, which did press for long periods against the Cherries but rarely forced opposing goalkeeper Artur Boruc into a meaningful save.
With Diego Costa not at the top of his game and seemingly at odds with the management, the Blues are increasingly looking to Willian to provide their moments of inspiration and he at least is delivering in what is almost a lone furrow while others are toiling around him. Typically, it was one of his now trademark free-kicks which drew his side level away to Porto in late September, but that night ended in one of many defeats for the club this season.
Porto showed back then that they are full of attacking panache, and as they need a win they will have to set about testing the Chelsea backline, which must hold firm more than ever to preserve their place in the competition. If they are eliminated here, the West London side will be at an even lower ebb than at any other time during this disastrous campaign of theirs.
It has to be said that Porto – who appeared to be crusing through – have made life difficult for themselves by losing at home to Dynamo Kiev on match day five. The worrying aspect that night was that it was quite a comprehensive defeat, but they have responded well domestically, recording their fourth Primeira Liga win in succession against Pacos Ferreira on Saturday to remain two points off leaders Sporting Lisbon.
Costa could return to the Chelsea starting line-up for this one, but they are again likely to be without Ramires and captain John Terry.
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