FC Porto are hoping to prolong the LIGA NOS title race when they take on SC Farense at Estadio do Dragao on Monday.

FC Porto’s 1-1 draw with SL Benfica in midweek turned out to be a vital result in the context of Liga NOS’ top of the table affairs. It helped Sporting CP extend their lead at the top to eight points, effectively crashing hopes of Porto’s late push for the title.

On the bright side, though, the Dragons have a healthy four-point lead over third-placed SL Benfica, meaning a win in their upcoming game against SC Farense could go a long way in helping them secure a top-two finish.

It could also prolong the title race, albeit for only a day as Sporting CP face Boavista on Tuesday, where a win could enough to help them clinch their first Liga NOS in over two decades.

Farense are no pushovers, though, and despite their position in the league table, they have everything to play for, knowing an upset against FC Porto could potentially help them move out of the relegation zone.

The Lions of Faro are currently 17th in the league table, but another three points could see them overtake 15th placed Rio Ave as they have a superior goal difference. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their crucial match-up at Estadio do Dragao on Monday.

Team News & Tactics

FC Porto

FC Porto head coach Sergio Conceicao will miss out on the services of Jesus Corona due to injury while Sergio Oliveira is unavailable due to yellow card suspension. Oliveira’s absence paves the way for Marko Grujic to make his return to the starting eleven, as the Liverpool loanee renews his partnership with Mateus Uribe in the double-pivot.

It remains unlikely that Conceicao would want to make any other changes, especially with Corona’s continued absence guaranteeing another start for Luiz Diaz, alongside Otavio in the wider attacking role.

Porto, though, will be hoping for more productivity from their frontline strikers in Moussa Marega and Mehdi Taremi. They are set to play a vital role in the first line of press as well, pressuring the opposition ball-carriers in an attempt to create turnovers.

Defensively, Pepe should continue to marshal the four-man backline, with additional support from the likes of Wilson Manafa, Chancel Mbemba and Zaidu Sanusi, as they look to protect Agustin Marchesin in goal.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Marchesin; Manafa, Mbemba, Pepe, Sanusi; Diaz, Uribe, Oliveira, Otavio; Marega, Taremi

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SC Farense

Farense’s head coach Jorge Costa has predominantly used a 4-2-3-1 since being appointed in February. Even though playmaker Ryan Gauld is their top goalscorer with eight goals, the attack is usually led by Pedro Henrique, who netted twice in the recent game against Vitoria Guimaraes.

In the attacking phase, Costa’s men are likely to embrace a 4-2-3-1 with Gauld orchestrating the front three ahead of him in Bilel Aouacheria, Henrique and Lica.

Defensively, though, Gauld could join the two central midfielders in Jonathan Lucca and Amine Oudrhiri, with the latter operating in the most defensive role. It could see lead to more of a 4-3-3 or a 4-1-4-1 when Farense are without possession.

As for the defensive unit itself, the onus will be on the centre-back pairing of Cesar Martins and Cassio Scheid to shield Beto in goal, with additional aid from full-backs in Tomas Tavares and Abner.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Beto; Tavares, Scheid, Martins, Abner; Oudrhiri, Lucca; Aouacheria, Gauld, Lica; Henrique

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Key Stats

  • SC Farense were defeated 1-0 when these two teams last met with each other, in the reverse fixture back in January.
  • Porto are in a great run of form and haven’t lost a single game since their 3-2 defeat to Paco Ferreira back in late October 2020.
  • Despite being the second-worst team in Portugal currently, Farense have not conceded more than three goals in a single game since MD3 (3-2 loss to Benfica).
  • FC Porto have the best goalscoring record in the league this season with 62 goals.
  • Farense are unbeaten in their last four league matches, with their last defeat coming against league leaders Sporting in mid-April.

Player to Watch

Mehdi Taremi

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Mehdi Taremi has been the main man for FC Porto this season, often stepping up on big occasions. His exploits in the UEFA Champions League this season have already been well-documented, with the forward starring in the win over Juventus while also scoring a majestic goal against Chelsea.

Taremi is the club’s most productive player as well, having been involved in 24 goals in the league this term. The 28-year-old, though, will have a point to prove after failing to find the back of the net against Benfica in O Classico.

From a tactical perspective, the Iranian international will be the focal point of the Porto attack, but an equally important outlet in the first line of press. His work ethic and determination to win back possession could be vital as the hosts look to take the Farense defence by storm.

Prediction

FC Porto 2-1 SC Farense

Despite the fact SC Farense are languishing at the bottom end of the league table, they certainly pack a punch going forward while they are also not particularly leaky in the defensive department.

Therefore, we are expecting the visitors to produce a strong fight and take this game down to the wire, although Porto are indeed the favourites, due to the gulf in quality between these two clubs, in addition to the fact that the Dragons have been in excellent form in the league. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win FC Porto.

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