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HomeSportsFootballTwo clubs with rich history and traditions in Europe: Porto vs Arsenal

Two clubs with rich history and traditions in Europe: Porto vs Arsenal

Porto vs Arsenal Two clubs with steep, rich histories and traditions across Europe are set to face each other in the Champions League Round of 16. Looking behind the curtains, the rivalry between both clubs has etched some special moments, especially in Europe’s most elite competition, the UEFA Champions League. These encounters are more than mere football games, representing the clashes of traditions, culture, and ideologies. There have been some memorable clashes in recent history books, such as the 2006 Champions League match where Porto held the legendary Arsenal star-stacked side to a goalless draw in the group stage. Another memorable match was in the Round of 16 of the 2009 UEFA Champions League, where Porto won 2-1 at Estádio do Dragão in the first leg. Although in the second leg at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal came through displaying their attacking prowess and technical finesse to advance to the quarter-finals on the back of a 5-0 win.

Many people consider this to be an easy match for Arsenal, but the Round of 16 tie between Porto and Arsenal is more difficult than some may think. Porto, led by Sérgio Conceição, is a team to be reckoned with. They are currently ranked third in Liga Portugal and finished level with Barcelona in the Champions League group stages with 12 points, and a better goal difference. Both Mikel Arteta and Sérgio Conceição are known for their tactical abilities and attention to detail, making this match a complex representation of structures and shapes on the football pitch.

Also read: 2023/24 Premier League Season Is Approaching Its Crucial Stage. Winner Odds 2023/24

PORTO VS ARSENAL – LEG 1: WHEN AND WHERE?

Date: Wednesday, 21st February, 2024
Time: 20:00 HRS (UK time) kick-off
Venue: Estádio do Dragão

PORTO VS ARSENAL – LEG 1: TEAM NEWS

This one comes too early for Jurrien Timber, who has had a surprising turnover time following his ACL injury which required surgery in the curtain raiser in the on-going season vs Manchester City in the Community Shield win. Mikel Arteta would be hoping for Thomas Partey to recover by the time of the clash, although his latest setback is not thought to be a serious one – you have to keep worried about him when he’s started just 53% (72/136) of their games since joining the club.

Gabriel Jesus and Zinchenko injury concerns are also understood to not be serious, as much so that they are in-line to appear for Arsenal’s next game against Burnley. Emile Smith-Rowe has “turned his ankle” in training and will be doubt for the fixture.

And the highlight to injury concerns will be Fabio Vieira, this will be the first time he has an opportunity to play against his boyhood club Porto since moving to Arsenal but he should face a late fitness test with the groin injury he has been nursing.

For the hosts, Ivan Marcano continues to serve the sidelines with a long-term injury. Sérgio Conceição doesn’t have any major injury concerns beyond Ivan.

PORTO VS ARSENAL – LEG 1: TACTICAL UNDERSTANDING

This is the first time Mikel Arteta will play in Champions League knockout matches since he took charge of Arsenal, though his record in knockout games have been exceptional even early during his tenure where he defeated the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea in-bid to win silverware. But let me put into prospective how tricky this tie actually is – Sérgio Conceição witnessed his team put up a strong performance at Anfield against Liverpool and also defeated Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. You could argue about the prospect of change in resources at hand, but his tactics have always been exceptional in big games, be it domestically in the league or in Europe.

You cannot predict how Porto will line-up, previously Conceição went through with a complement of 3-4-3 and 5-4-1 when they faced Liverpool – and when asked about it he said, “We prepared the game with a different strategy to that which we usually play. We needed to control the defensive space, as well as the [Liverpool] players. Space was important to control. Against the extremely aggressive Liverpool team the pitch becomes small for the team attacking. We had two full-backs, or false full-backs, Alex Telles and Corona. We had to respect Liverpool because in their defensive system, and recovery of the ball after losing it, they are the best team. They make the most of this space, winning the ball and starting counter attacks, so it was important to look at our opponents and the defensive strategy. Tottenham set up like this against Liverpool, and Manchester City [have in the past], so it wasn’t a case of us showing too much respect. We had to see what to do when we come up against Liverpool. We’ve worked regularly with 3-4-3 or 5-4-1 however you want to see it. It can be extremely attacking depending on how you want to see it on the pitch. It can be three defenders and seven attackers!”

Also read: Betting Odds Favor Mauricio Pochettino For Chelsea Sack Amid Pressure At Stamford Bridge.

This season they have lined-up quite on a back-four scale, and have changed the offensive systems based on teams they face. Against Barcelona they went with two strikers while against minnows they have also went with a SS to support a primary striker.

PORTO VS ARSENAL – LEG 1: KEY PLAYERS

GABRIEL MAGALHÃES

Following surpassing in Thomas Vermaelen with his 14th Arsenal goal when he scored against Porto, now making him the second-highest scoring defender in Arsenal history. Since he arrived at Arsenal, the Brazilian has scored the most goals from set pieces (excl. penalties) of any player in the Premier League with 14 over the past three and a half seasons that places him one clear of James Ward-Prowse. Gabriel Magalhães has been a menace this season, he has looked more comfortable in a CCB on-possession, he has been making some excellent long balls every-now-and-then, he has had the confidence to roam around a bit while covering the left -back (when Zinny plays), and it’s not easy past going him in a aerial duel. Many doubted how he would fit in when the Gunners play more of a slick football, but he has levelled up as much to not only stick around but also become one of more influential figures in the team.

Porto will have to keep an eye out for him offensively every time there is a dead-ball situation.

Going into the defensive side of things, him & Saliba will have to keep an eye out for Evanilson – who has been in some top form this season. It will be important they deny any space and time to Porto’s offensive line.

EVANILSON

Evanilson has been resonated with Erling Haaland category of center forwards, the ones that emphasize spatial manipulation over extended running efforts. The Brazilian was been deployed in an OOP pressing role in the first line of pressure within Porto’s 4-4-2 structure during the initial phase, and that pressing can be something Arsenal and Arteta could likely look to exploit to explore transition-esque sequences (something that we have seen Arsenal do time and time again this season in Europe). While Porto play a complement of 4-3-3 and a 4-4-2 with various strictures in-game, Evanilson is influential to all angles of it. We may see a clash of Brazilians if Porto likely catch Arsenal sitting back and if they have extended possession then Evanilson may try to use his holding capacity against Gabriel to move the ball across and generate separation to create an attacking sequence in final third. Evanilson plays a few dimensional roles, and one where he drifts wide to find space and give space inside could also harm Arsenal.

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