Chelsea’s triumph at Sporting Lisbon allowed the Blues to take command of Champions League Group G, as well as a prominent place in the betting to claim the trophy outright.
Jose Mourinho’s men can be backed as joint-third 6/1 favourites to land club football’s most sought-after crown for a second time and the manner of their victory in the Portuguese capital suggests this is an excellent bet.
With four points from their opening two matches and only one difficult away game remaining, the west Londoners look to have pole position in the bag already.
Ominously for their competitors though, Chelsea’s 1-0 win at the Estadio Jose Alvalade demonstrated that they still have the pragmatic performance in their locker to compliment their new-found penchant for expansive attacking.
While they did allow their adversaries 15 attempts at goal, only four of these came from inside their box and just three found the target.
A personnel overhaul wasn’t required in order to bring about this stringent showing either.
Cesc Fabregas was trusted to shield the back four alongside Nemanja Matic despite pre-season speculation that he’d be thrust into an advanced role for fixtures such as this one.
With the former Barcelona man in the deeper midfield position and Oscar, Eden Hazard and Andre Schurrle deployed behind Diego Costa, the Blues offer a prominent counter-attacking threat, able to get the ball forward accurately and quickly without compromising in defence.
The team that prevailed at Sporting resembled the Real Madrid side that conquered the continent last term in this way.
Los Blancos prospered when fielding Luka Modric, who was tasked to ensure Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and co were fed with a ball to feet at the first opportunity, in front of the back four.
It can be argued that Chelsea’s defence is superior to the one that served Real so well last time around, rendering them capable of producing the steadfast football that Mourinho is famed for, as well as lethal counter-attacking when the situation calls for it.