Porto v Chelsea – Preview, Predictions and Best Bets
By BET Contributor
Porto host Chelsea at Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán on Wednesday night in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final. Both legs will be played in Seville. The Blues have won five of their last eight meetings against Porto but face a resolute defensive side who knocked Juventus out in the next round. The winners of this tie will face the winners of Real Madrid vs Liverpool in the semi-finals.
FC Porto are 19 matches in the Primeira Liga but four draws in their last nine matches means that they sit eight points behind Sporting Lisbon. After a 2-1 home win in the Champions League round of 16 against Juventus, Porto had a dip as they drew 0-0 a home with rivals Sporting, lost 3-2 at home in their domestic cup semi-final to Sporting Braga and then lost 3-2 to Juventus. That result was still enough to progress on away goals.
Since that match, Porto have won three games in a row, all in the league. Their most recent match saw a last minute winner to beat Santa Clara 2-1 at home.
Porto Team News
Coach Sergio Conceicao has to make do without two of his top players for this match. Striker Mehdi Taremi is suspended and with 15 goals and 13 assists this term, he is a real loss to Porto’s options.
The biggest blow though is that Sergio Oliveira is banned in central midfield. He is Porto’s penalty taker and has five goals in his last five matches and 19 for the season. On loan Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic could take his place. Malang Sarr is on loan from Chelsea but is eligible for selection. However, he is expected to have to settle for a place on the bench.
Porto would probably be very happy to draw this match and look to win the second leg with Oliveira back from suspension in central midfield. Sergio Conceicao’s side can’t afford to open up and allow space for Timo Werner to break and they are capable of sitting in a compact, deep 4-4-2 and absorbing pressure.
Since the appointment of Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea had gone 14 matches unbeaten in all competitions with an incredible 12 clean sheets. Saturday’s 5-2 drubbing at home to West Brom put an end to that run albeit after Thiago Silva’s red card with Chelsea 1-0 up after 29 minutes.
Having netted just 13 goals in his first 12 matches at the helm, Chelsea have improved slightly with two goals scored in each of the last three matches. Chelsea reached this stage after a comfortable and confident 3-0 aggregate victory against Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea Team News
Tuchel rotated his side heavily against West Brom with many players rested after international duty. Antonio Rudiger will return to start despite a training ground bust-up with a teammate this week whilst Andreas Christensen could be preferred to Thiago Silva in the middle of the back three.
Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi are hoping to get the nod as wingbacks with the former expected to replace Marcos Alonso after the Spaniard’s poor performance in the last match. N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic are only fit enough for the bench whilst Mason Mount and Kai Havertz should play in support of Timo Werner in attack.
Chelsea will look to keep it very solid in the “away” leg although both matches are being played in Seville. Tuchel’s side almost never open up and will have seven defensive players and then a front three.
A score draw would be a good result but Chelsea will play for a cleansheet first and foremost and try to nick a goal, as they did away at Atletico. A top four league finish is a key objective but all attention will be on this Champions League tie.
Porto have lost just 1 of their last 7 Champions League matches (5 wins, 1 draw)
Porto have won 4 of their last 5 matches
Chelsea have kept 12 clean sheets in their last 15 matches
Chelsea have lost 1 of their last 15 matches in all competitions (10 wins, 4 draws)
Chelsea have seen under 2.5 goals in 10 of their last 11 matches in all competitions
A tight game is likely but Chelsea hold the advantage due to Porto’s crucial suspensions, even with N’Golo Kante only fit enough to be on the bench for The Blues. Therefore, a win for Tuchel’s team could be the best bet. With so many goals taken out of Porto’s XI, a clean sheet for Chelsea looks a good option.