The second leg of the UEFA Champions League games are to commence this week and while they are some mouth-watering ties to be decided, one that could’ve already been put to bed is Chelsea vs Porto.
When the draw was made less than 4 weeks ago, critics put Chelsea as favorites for it, however, Porto always had more than an outside chance, after all, they defeated the 9 times consecutive Serie A champions Juventus over 2 legs to get to the quarter-final of the Champions League.
Now, with the Blues being up by 2 away goals, it is up to Porto to take the game to them on Tuesday night and it is a lot easier said than done as the Blues have only conceded to 4 opponents out of 15 under Thomas Tuchel.
CHELSEA VS PORTO – MATCH PREVIEW:
One of the odder things about this tie is that both the home and the away legs are being played in Seville due to coronavirus restrictions and this could play a huge role in the second leg as Porto would be unfazed by Chelsea and will not hesitate to attack Chelsea despite it being an away leg for Porto.
Chelsea’s tie to lose?
If the weekend taught Thomas Tuchel anything it was that Kai Havertz has well and truly arrived in England and most importantly, under his reign. The £72 million signing in the summer proved why Chelsea paid the big bucks, and this performance was needed after Havertz looked completely bereft of ideas and energy in the first leg against Porto.
The German picked up spaces in between the lines and scored a sumptuous goal while set up another and gelled very well in the front three with the likes of Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic. Speaking of the American, Pulisic was yet another standout performer against Palace on the weekend and while he did come on against Porto as a sub, he could make minimal impact besides his shot that thundered against the post in the dying minutes of the game.
Mason Mount, who hasn’t dropped levels at any point this season, will most definitely start the 2nd leg against Porto as he was the reason Chelsea scored the first away goal of two to ease the pressure on the Blues which was an otherwise Porto dominated half.
Thomas Tuchel, after the Porto game, must be aware of how technically adept Porto are on the ball and how hard they make it for teams to pass the ball around them. This tactic, however, also has its own pitfalls and Tuchel is very likely to use Hakim Ziyech in the game as the Moroccan playmaker can pick out passes and catch the Porto backline out on the break ever so well, as he did so efficiently against Atletico Madrid in Chelsea’s 2nd leg against the Spaniards 4 weeks ago.
Christensen is most likely to start the game after he was rested on the weekend, however, rest might be provided to either Azpilicueta or Rudiger as Thiago Silva might also come back into the line-up as the Brazilian looked composed when he came on as a substitute against the Portuguese side in the first leg.
Thomas Tuchel is expecting his players to ease past this Porto side and secure a semi-final spot in the Champions after being eluded from it for over 7 years.
Can Porto produce another miracle?
While Porto controlled a lot of the game in the first leg against the Blues, they had nothing to show for it by the end and it showed how much the Portuguese side missed their best player in Sergio Oliveira.
The Portuguese playmaker has scored 12 goals and provided 6 assists this season while also having played a crucial role in Porto’s victory over Juventus in the last 16 of the competition. Oliveira scored the 2 away goals that secured Porto’s place in the quarter-final, however, a yellow card in the first half of extra-time against the Italian side, meant that the 28-year-old could not play a part in the first leg against their opponents if they were to go through.
While Porto went through, Oliveira had to sit the game out against Chelsea and will be out to make an impact in the 2nd leg against the Blues.
Another absentee against Chelsea was Mehdi Taremi, Porto’s inform striker who has had 20 goal involvements this season in the Liga Nos and will be wanting to make a mark against Chelsea on Tuesday after he missed the first leg on account of getting a red-card in the 2nd leg against Juventus.
Porto’s game last Wednesday worked to some extent due to players like Otavia and Marko Grujic playing their hearts out in midfield, however, the backline of Porto will need to act more professionally as both Chelsea goals were a result of mistakes by the defence.
After the draw was made, Porto manager, Sérgio Conceição made an allegation that the Chelsea players celebrated after they were drawn against the Portuguese side, however, while this was brushed away by Tuchel as a false accusation, Porto will have a fire in their hearts to go and make a point to this Chelsea side and what better way than to crush the Blues’ dreams of a Champions League semi-final?
Chelsea: Edouard Mendy- Cesar Azpilicueta; Andreas Christensen; Thiago Silva- Reece James; Ben Chilwell; N’Golo Kante; Mateo Kovacic- Mason Mount; Hakim Ziyech; Kai Havertz
Porto: Agustin Marchesin- Wilson Manafa ; Chancel Mbemba; Pepe; Zaidu Sansui- Jesus Corona; Sergio Oliviera; Mateus Uribe; Olivier Monteiro- Moussa Marega; Mehdi Taremi