Stamford Bridge, London
9th December, 2015
There is a nice little back-story to this clash between the two giants of their respective countries, and that back story has two words — Jose Mourinho. It’s been more than a decade since he moved from FC Porto to Chelsea FC under the reign of Roman Abramovich, but the Champions League triumph at the Portuguese club still remains one of Mourinho’s biggest triumphs.
However, the Special One has come a long way, from taking on the top clubs for the highest honour in the continent, to fighting a relegation battle with a multi-million-pounds team, at the West London Club. It would be interesting to see his Chelsea FC face-off against FC Porto, who are currently fighting for the Portuguese title.
Team News & Tactical Brief
Mourinho has thus far tried and failed to end Chelsea FC’s blues, as they suffered their eighth loss of the league against a relegation threatened Bournemouth in the weekend. This loss can just after they were looking like they were turning the corner with a respectable 0-0 draw at Tottenham Hotspur.
Chelsea need at least a draw from this game, and would take heart from the fact that they are not playing this decider in front of the menacing fans at the Estadio do Dragao, in Porto.
Thibaut Courtois has made his comeback from a knee injury, and will be available for this match, as the Blues look to keep Mourinho’s former team out. However, a poor defensive showing this season means that they would be looking to get the required goals, in order to keep themselves safe.
Mourinho has used Baba Rahman so far in left back in the Champions League, and is more likely to do that again, with club captain John Terry also getting back into the side.
Another big change that the Portuguese is expected to make is bringing back Diego Costa into the attack. The Spain international was dropped by Mourinho in the Spurs game, when he created a lot of ruckus in the media by appearing to have thrown his training bib at his manager during the match. However, he looked lively when he was brought on against Bournemouth, and is expected to start against Mourinho’s old team.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Baba, Zouma, Terry, Ivanovic; Fabregas, Matic; Pedro, Haard, Willian; Costa.
The Portuguese club have a tricky situation in front of them, as they need a win to be sure of a place in the knockout rounds of the Champions League. Dynamo Kyiv, who lie third in Group F right now face Maccabi Tel-Aviv at home and are expected to win the match easily. This would mean that even a draw would not be enough for FC Porto to qualify for the Round of 16.
However, anything but a win for Dynamo Kyiv means that both Porto and Chelsea would progress to the knockout rounds.
FC Porto needs to get the goals against the quaking Chelsea FC defence, and would be looking to their front three — Yacine Brahimi, Vincent Aboubakar, and Andre Andre, to get the job done at the Stamford Bridge. FC Porto like to keep the ball and pass it around, instead of hooving the ball up field, and this is a tactic that could well play into Chelse FC’s hands.
This is why defenders Marcano and Bruno Martins Indi would have to be careful with their handling the pacey playmaking trio of Willian, Eden Hazard, and Pedro. They would also need a lot of assistance from the young Ruben Neves, who is expected to play in the holding midfield role.
Midfielders Danilo Pereira and Giannelli Imbula also need to be alert of Chelsea FC’s counter attacks, while also acting as the creative heads of the midfield.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Casillas; Layun, Martins-Indi, Marcano, Maxi Pereira; Imbula, Neves, Danilo Pereira; Brahimi, Aboubakar, Andre.
- FC Porto have never won a match in England.
- Chelsea FC have managed only two wins out of their last five matches in all competitions.
- 23 per cent of the shots taken against a travelling FC Porto have been from inside the six-yard-box, this season.
- Chelsea FC have lost just one of their last 13 Champions League matches. That one defeat came at the hands of none other than FC Porto at the Estadio do Dragao, in September.
- FC Porto have lost all of their last three away matches at the Stamford Bridge.
Player to watch out for
Ruben Neves (FC Porto)
He might be just 18-years-old, but Ruben Neves is already being considered as one of the brightest players to come out of the FC Porto youth academy, and is reportedly being scouted by many top clubs from across Europe (Chelsea FC being one f them). Playing in the holding midfield role, Neves has shown great maturity for his relatively young age, and is also plays long and short passes through to the forwards. He is someone, who can really hurt Chelsea FC with his great range of passing, and vision.
Chelsea FC 2-3 FC Porto
With Mourinho unleashing a verbal attack on some of his players after the defeat to Bournemouth, the atmosphere at the Blues’ dressing room is not set to be too bright, and this could result in a further loss for the defending Premier League champions.Europa League seems to be on the cards for them in spring.
Blast from the past