Champions League Quarter Final Preview – Man Utd vs FC Porto

by

Preamble

When this draw was made a couple of weeks ago it seemed like Man Utd were clear favourites to progress against the Portuguese champions. Indeed that is still very much the case – you get 10/1 on a Porto win tomorrow night and 9/2 on Porto getting through full stop. Now I know United are a force to be reckoned with at home in Europe but 10/1 is an absolutely ridiculous price in a Champions League quarter final and is worth £2 of anyone’s money on Betfair. I think the bookies are underestimating Porto, especially in light of Man Utd’s somewhat dubious recent form. 

Fergie - much to ponder

Fergie - much to ponder

 

Squeaky bums

Whilst domestic form doesn’t necessarily always translate into European form, Fergie will be wary of being over confident. Recent defeats to Liverpool and Fulham were followed by a less than convincing win over Aston Villa at the weekend. Considering six weeks ago this side looked like they could never concede, the defence is quite shaky at the moment. This is not helped when Ferguson decides in his infinite wisdom that it’s a good idea to play Gary Neville at centre back against John Carew. The mistake was rectified in game, but not before Neville was given a torrid half hour. Rio is still out so Evans will look to form a solid base with Vidic. A clean sheet would be much appreciated, given ten have been conceded in the last five games. Further forward you’re likely to see the usual suspects in midfield and attack with Tevez likely to partner Rooney up front while in midfield you could maybe expect Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo and Park. 

 

Jose’s shadow

The last time Porto got this far, they went and won the whole tournament and the world was introduced to the Special One AKA Jose Mourinho. Indeed it was at this same stage in 2004 that they faced Man Utd and proceeded to knock them out with 1-1 draw at Old Trafford after winning the first leg. Cue Jose’s jig down the Old Trafford touchline.

Anyway, that’s all history now but Porto haven’t managed to reach the same heights since, despite winning the league three years running. They currently have a solid, counter-attacking team that has a pair of very effective strikers in Lisandro and Hulk. Both have the ability to cause the United defence some problems – Lisandro has six European goals already this campaign while Hulk is like a good version of Julio Baptista (not saying much I know). In midfield Rodriguez will pull the strings centrally and will be supported by Meireles and Gonzalez. 

Hulk - Is that him angry or happy?

Hulk - Is that him angry or happy?

 

Prediction

It will be interesting to see which Porto turn up, the one brushed aside 4-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates in the group stages or the one that classily won the return leg 2-0 (though against an understrength Gunners). In the last round Atletico were knocked out on away goals in a tight affair, but I remember from the highlights that Porto missed enough chances to have put the tie long beyond doubt. Man Utd will be hoping that following his double against Villa, Ronaldo has come into some form. He always makes sure he noticed in big games, but not always for the quality of his play. They will target the Porto keeper Helton who isn’t the most convincing and hope too that Rooney has one of his nights where everything comes off. I do think the price on Porto is too big but at the same United are justifiably favourites and will hope to take a clean sheet into the second leg, ideally topped off with two goals of their own.

 

T.

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