Chelsea’s shock Champions League defeat to Basel will have come as a shock to all but the most myopic of the Swiss club’s fans, but at 23/4 they suddenly look a smasher of a bet to top Group E.
Jose Mourinho’s men remain atop the betting to win the section at 57/100, with Schalke 43/20 and Steaua Bucharest rank 100/1 outsiders.
However, not one side that lost their opening game went on to win their group in last year’s competition.
Just how unlikely a Basel win in west London was deemed to be was indicated by the fact that shrewd bwin punters could have backed the Swiss Super League bosses at an eye-watering 8/1 for victory.
Yet although the Swiss rode their luck in no small manner in the early stages of the game, they grew in confidence after their equaliser, pressing for a winner rather than shutting up shop with a point.
Such tactical courageousness is a credit to manager Murat Yakin and the counter-attacking incisiveness Basel showed at Stamford Bridge bodes well for upcoming trips to Steaua Bucharest and Schalke.
Yakin’s side are continental competition-savvy campaigners, eliminating Manchester United from the Champions League groups in 2011/12 and reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League last term.
The latter run was underpinned by some serious home strength during a season in which they lost just three times in 34 fixtures at St Jakob-Park in all competitions and the stadium could be a sturdy redoubt once again this term.
Already three points to the good, they face the Germans at home in their next fixture.
Anything gained from that clash will be a big bonus ahead of consecutive away and home ties against likely Group E whipping boys Steaua.
Basel could quite conceivably pick up six points from two games against the Romanians, making 10 points a reasonable target after four games.
A further two points from the remaining two games would have seen them top four of the eight groups in last year’s competition.