Chelsea are very warm favourites to win Group E in the Champions League, although it is unlikely to be plain sailing considering that Valencia and Bayer Leverkusen also feature in this section and it is the German side that will relish their visit to Stamford Bridge this week.
The Blues are not yet firing on all cylinders and the big question is whether Fernando Torres will be recalled in attack after Andre Villas-Boas decided to go with Nicolas Anelka and Daniel Sturridge in attack at Sunderland as his team landed their first away win of the season.
Chelsea are no bigger than 4/9 (Paddy Power – £100 free bets) to claim an opening win in this competition and they have already registered home victories over Norwich and West Brom this term, although neither were particularly convincing.
Maybe it will be Torres that leads the line and the Spaniard clearly has plenty of Champions League experience, although many punters will be swerving El Nino at 4/1 (bet365 – £200 free betting) on the basis that he has netted just one goal since arriving from Liverpool last January. Nicolas Anelka (6/1 Coral) and Juan Mata (7/1 Betfred) could be more attractive options.
Leverkusen won 20 of their 34 Bundesliga matches to finish second last term and Robin Dutt’s side will be full of confidence after a thumping 4-1 win in Augsburg on Friday which saw them control the game from start to finish.
Perhaps the visitors will look upon this game as a bonus fixture where they are not expected to get anything and consequently the pressure will be off their shoulders, with the bookmakers prepared to offer 8/1 that Chelsea are surprisingly beaten at the Bridge.