Porto v Chelsea Preview (Champions League) – 29th September 2015

Chelsea head to Portugal on Tuesday night as they look to build on their winning start to their Champions League campaign. The trip will be a big one for manager Jose Mourinho, as the boss heads back to his former club. With the hosts sitting pretty at the top of the Portuguese league, can they beat the Premier League champions and get their first win of the group?

Porto have made a great start domestically, including seeing off their main rivals Benfica last weekend to stay top of the table. They’ll have ambitions of topping their Champions League group too, which makes this game a must win for them. Mourinho will come here expecting a tough game, which makes him likely to adopt a defensive approach, as he tends to do in big Premier League games.

Expect to see a midfield with Nemanja Matic playing alongside either Ramires or John Obi Mikel, giving the visitors a strong foundation, and restricting space to the Portuguese side. That makes the Blues tough to break down, and it gives them a platform from which to launch counter attacks, which will surely be crucial. The big question remains over the defence, which has been a little too vulnerable so far this season.

Adding a second deep lying midfielder worked well against Arsenal, and it should be very helpful again here. Expect Kurt Zouma to be back in the team for this game, possibly alongside the experience of John Terry. It’s going to be a night for the old heads, so Cesar Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanovic will likely start. They have the knowhow when it comes to edging games like this.

Diego Costa may have been banned by the FA, but his suspension thankfully won’t carry over to this game. A dominant physical presence like his will be needed in this game, as the forward will need to do thankless running and a lot of holding the ball up. There are few in the game who that as well as Costa, and he can be a threat if given the chances.

A win here would be huge for Chelsea, and not just as a boost for the returning Mourinho. It would put them far clear at the top going into a double header with Dynamo Kiev. You’d imagine at that point that qualification would be almost secured. The big challenge will be getting across the line in this game, but this is the kind of game the team have relished for the last few years.

This won’t be a game for the neutrals, it’ll be another fighting Blues display. Porto will try to dominate possession and push the visitors back, but if all goes to the usual plan there will be little space for them to play in. With their backs against the wall, you’d fancy Chelsea to get over the line, and claim three points.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 1-0