Chelsea’s season went from bad to worse on Saturday as a 1-0 home defeat to Bournemouth left the Blues 17 points off the top of the Premier League table and only two above the relegation zone.
Things may seem terrible now, but the mood at Stamford Bridge will turn even sourer if they lose to Porto on Wednesday night in what is now one of the biggest matches in Jose Mourinho’s managerial career.
A defeat to Porto, who beat Chelsea 2-1 at the Estadio do Dragao earlier this season, will see Mourinho’s men booted out of the Champions League if Dynamo Kyiv claim three points against Maccabi Tev Aviv, who have lost all five group games so far.
However, should Chelsea beat the Portuguese giants, they will qualify for the knockout phase of Europe’s no.1 club competition as top seeds, providing the club with some much-needed good news.
So, who is going to play in this massive game?
Here is the XI we reckon Mourinho will start with…
After completing his long-awaited return from injury in the weekend loss to Bournemouth, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will almost certainly make his first Champions League start of the 2015-16 campaign, replacing Asmir Begovic, who has only conceded three goals in his five European appearances for the Blues.
John Terry has not featured for Chelsea since damaging his ankle in their last Champions League outing – a 4-0 win over Maccabi. However, the Blues will want their experienced captain to lead them out and to help the club’s younger players cope with the big occasion. He should be fit enough for Mourinho to take a minor risk by starting him.
Baba Rahman has looked good going forward from left-back in recent weeks, but a safety-first approach will be the order of the day, so expect Cesar Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanovic to provide the wide defensive cover.
Ramires is still sidelined and this is not a night to blood youngsters, like Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Therefore, Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic will be the men in the middle.
Chelsea will not park the bus, but Mourinho will look to keep things tight and attack Porto on the break. As a result, the pace of Pedro, Willian and Eden Hazard will be vital, as will the industry of lone frontman Diego Costa.
Many bookmakers make Chelsea even-money favourites to beat Porto – the same price as you would get for sticking it all on red at the casino. If you want to learn how to play the roulette wheel properly, check out roulettegeeks.
Porto can be backed at 3-1 in many places, which is not bad for a team who won nine of their last 11 games in all competitions.