Porto vs Chelsea - Preview
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea meet Porto in the last 8 of the Champions League, in their bid to set up a semi-final encounter with either Real Madrid or Liverpool.
If both of their knockout ties are anything to go by, it is most likely going to be a game where Chelsea dominate possession and Porto will sit back and try and contain the English outfit. Porto have averaged 38% possession in the Champions League so far, whereas Chelsea have almost doubled that with an average of 63%.
Porto have a very similar playing style to Atletico Madrid, who Chelsea knocked out in the previous round. Maybe this means Chelsea will look to utilise the wings in order to break down their stubborn opposition. Chelsea attempted 32 crosses in the round of 16 against Atletico.
Porto’s centre back pairing of Pepe and Mbemba are going to be busy but dealing with crosses is something they have proved they’re comfortable to do, through their performances against Juventus. Pepe tallied up 18 clearances in the second leg against Juventus and ranks fourth in the most clearances per 90 minutes in this years competition, with Mbemba coming in at eleventh.
Mehdi Taremi will be suspended for the first leg at the Estadio do Dragao, leaving Moussa Marega responsible to lead the line. With Porto potentially wanting to counter attack at any given moment when a turnover of possession occurs, a strong, pacey forward willing to run into channels may provide openings to score, and Marega offers just that.
In regards to Chelsea’s forward line, it is hard to not focus on Giroud being their best bet of scoring, with the Frenchman being Chelsea’s top scorer in the competition. An out of favour Timo Werner, desperate to impress, may be overlooked by Tuchel, with a physical presence in the box may prevent Porto’s centre backs having an easy night, as well as being far more suitable if Chelsea do offer to put frequent crosses into the box.
Breaking down a stubborn defensive block requires high levels of creativity, and Chelsea have this in abundance. The likes of Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech are no doubt going to have had an influence in helping Chelsea progress, if they are to do so. Something Juventus lacked was that killer pass, and these two have the ability to undo any defence.
Tuchel on facing Porto:
‘We are confident that we face a strong opponent that we face with all the respect but now that we are in quarter-final we think about how to win it and the only thing we focus on is to reach the semi-final and we are confident enough that we see our chances.’
Conceicao on facing Chelsea:
“We are glad we escaped the likes of Bayern and Man City. Chelsea are good side but they are no different from Juventus — being happy for the draw, we will stick to our usual style of play and eliminate them as we did to Juventus.”
Written by Thomas Barnes