Our penultimate game before yet another international break, sees us come up against Porto in the UEFA Champions League. Live from 9pm local time, we will be playing in possibly our biggest tests of the group. Porto are a household name in European football and over the years have built a reputation as quite a tricky opponent in European competition. Away games in the champions league are always the toughest. Not only is the travelling a factor, but the atmospheres are always hostile. The 12th man really counts for a lot in Europe.
A quick look at our opponent:
As mentioned previously, Porto are a staple in European Competitions and have bags of experience to go with some very talented players too. One key note of interest would be the reunion between former Barca player Nico Gonzalez and Barça. He plays his football for the Portuguese side now, so it’ll be interesting to see him again. Porto are currently third in their domestic league, only 3 points behind leaders Sporting Lisbon. So far they’ve managed to score 10 goals in the league and conceded only 6. They’re a strong, physical opponent with great shooters and finishers. We were tested a lot against Sevilla, who played in a similar way physically. Objective for the evening and the thing we need to be focusing the most on, is finishing our chances. Porto are a decent team defensively, they’re playing at home, so this is definitely one of our biggest tests so far this season. It’s going to be a tricky game, so we’ll be hoping to set off on the right foot. And rely on any signs of away support to help pull us through.
In terms of absentees, we head into the game without Pedri, Frenkie and Raphinha. Although thankfully the former, Pedri, is starting to near the end of his recovery. I cant wait for his return. When we’re looking at the lineup for tonight’s clash though, I think the main question will come in defence. Me personally, for this game only, considering how good Porto are good in transition, i would go back to last season’s setup in defence with Kounde at right back. With Araujo and Christensen in defence. Although what will most likely happen, is a partnership of Araujo and Kounde in defence with Balde and Cancelo at fullback. Which id be excited to see happen too. Cancelo could even be deployed in a more attacking position maybe? It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how Xavi decides to lineup. Even Fermin Lopez has earned a potential start in the game after his brilliant cameo against Sevilla. In attack, due to Raphinha’s absence it’ll either be Ferran or Lamine on the right of attack. And it’ll most likely be our young superstar, Lamine Yamal. Fresh off his new contract earlier in the week.
My starting 11:
Cancelo- Kounde- Araujo- Balde
Gundogan- Romeu- Gavi
Lamine- Lewandowski- Felix