Chelsea are clearly convinced they should not have too many difficulties escaping Group D – which includes tonight's opponents Porto as well as Atletico Madrid and Apoel Nicosia.
The Portuguese champions are in London tonight and the league leaders are without Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa, both suspended for their outbursts in the wake of Chelsea's elimination to Barcelona at the semi-final stage last season. Drogba misses the first of three games while Bosingwa is banned for two games. However, the defender Ricardo Carvalho, who faces his former club tonight, confidently claimed yesterday the key thing was that both players are available when Chelsea play in the knock-out stages next year – when, not if.
"It's better to miss games now than later in the competition," he said. "It's important to have all the players available but you can't use it as an excuse. Winning the game is the responsibility of the team."
Carvalho, who won the trophy in 2004 with Porto, admitted Chelsea's near misses of recent years, particularly the 2008 final which they lost on penalties to Manchester United, give Carlo Ancelotti's players all the motivation they need. "It hurts a lot," he said. "But more important is to get there more times and have more chances to win it."
Confidence is high at Stamford Bridge after Chelsea claimed their fifth straight Premier League win at Stoke on Saturday. But they would be advised to be wary of Porto who are in similar form having won their third successive league game 4-1 at home to Leixoes on Saturday. Colombian striker Falcao has scored four in four since his summer move from River Plate while the Brazilian Hulk has returned after a two-game domestic ban.