Porto lowdown ahead of Champions League clash with Chelsea

Porto have an ex-Oxford United striker in attack, a hothead of a manager and 38-year-old legend at the back… the Portuguese underdogs are out to shock Chelsea after ending Juventus’ Champions League dream in last-16

  • Porto take on Chelsea in the Champions League quarter finals on Wednesday 
  • The Portuguese side dumped Juventus out of the competition last month 
  • Sergio Conceicao will need to keep his cool on the touchline in Sevilla
  • The Porto boss was sent off two weeks ago and had a row with Pep Guardiola
  • The outsiders have an ex-Oxford striker, a Chelsea loanee and a wily veteran 

They are the 35-1 outsiders that are generally viewed as Group Stage fodder, perhaps regarded by the likes of Andrea Agnelli as too small to even entertain the notion of reaching a Champions League quarter final.

But Porto are alive and kicking and ready to serve up another shock on European football’s big stage. 

Sergio Conceicao’s side entertain Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea in Sevilla, but can the fiery Portuguese coach keep his cool and help the Liga NOS side reach their first semi final since 2003-04? Sportsmail provides the lowdown on this season’s underdogs. 

Porto are looking to gain another huge scalp in this season’s Champions League competition

Thomas Tuchel (L) is expected to guide his side through against Sergio Conceicao’s (R) side

The hothead manager

Porto will need to replicate the super-human effort that saw them dump Juventus out of the competition, and Conceicao will need to remain level headed on the touchline to help guide his charges through the 180 minutes of action.

It is fair to say the 46-year-old is rather short-tempered, as witnessed last month when he was red carded following his roll in a brawl with Portimonense coach Paulo Sergio. 

The Porto boss, admittedly, was riled by a comment made by his counterpart after Sergio Oliveira scored a free kick from range. Not one to let it slide, Conceicao fired back with players and staff needed to break the pair up.

The Porto boss will have to keep his cool having been involved in bust ups this season

Conceicao was so incensed by Sergio that he failed to calm down all the way from the dugout to the tunnel as the pair were escorted off the pitch.

The Portuguese coach may not want to be reminded of his disparaging comments towards Pep Guardiola in light of the incident in Portimao. 

Conceicao hit out at the Manchester City boss’ touchline etiquette following their 3-1 defeat last October. 

Conceicao became embroiled in a touchline row with Pep Guardiola when they met in October

‘I’ve got a lot to learn from Pep Guardiola, in the way he pressures referees, talks to opposition players and opposition dugout,’ he said.

‘He’s a fantastic example. I have to learn this. We were angels compared to the other dugout. He spoke about our country using ugly words. Guardiola’s attitude was extremely unpleasant.

‘The whole Manchester City dugout was because if anybody should have been complaining, it was the Porto bench, because we were extremely hard done by.’ 

The former Oxford striker thriving in Portugal 

Toni Martinez has come a long way since playing under Michael Appleton at the Kassam Stadium.

Martinez, 23, spent six months on loan at the League One club from Premier League side West Ham United, having joined the Hammers from Valencia as a youngster in 2016.

Ex-Oxford United and West Ham starlet Toni Martinez is thriving in Portuguese football

There had been high hopes among youth staff regarding Martinez’s future. He smashed in 12 goals in 11 games for the Hammers’ U23 squad prior to his first foray into senior football.

However, his sensational form at academy level did not translate into men’s football. Martinez scored three goals in 17 games for the club, before being shipped out to Valladollid, CD Lugo and Rayo Majadahonda in his homeland.

West Ham opted not to renew Martinez’s contract and he joined Famalicao as a free agent, helping the side to promotion to Portugal’s top flight.

The Spaniard spent half a campaign with the League One side, scoring three goals in total

Martinez became the first Famalicao player in a quarter of a century to score a Liga NOS goal and led the side to the semi final of the Taca de Portugal last season. 

His displays for the newcomers was enough to convince Porto to part ways with £2.8m to bring him to the club last summer. He has scored four goals in 19 games for Conceicao’s side. 

Key man: Pepe

Pepe just keeps on going. It is hard to believe the defensive brute is still competing at the highest level at 38 years of age, but Pepe’s leadership and quality has come to the fore for Conceicao and Porto. 

The Portuguese defender put in an heroic display to help his side, who had been reduced to 10 men for much of the second leg in Turin, over the line and will be hungry to show that the result over Andrea Pirlo’s side was no fluke. 

‘If I didn’t believe it, I wouldn’t wake up every day to come and train at Olival (Porto’s training ground) with the passion I have for football,’ he said ahead of Wednesday night’s game.

‘I always believe that it is possible to win the Champions League with FC Porto.’ 

With midfield talisman Sergio Oliveira suspended for the first leg, Pepe will need to be Porto’s bedrock, laying the foundations for a disciplined performance in Sevilla.  

Wily veteran Pepe is still competing at the highest level in defiance of his 38 years of age

The Portuguese veteran believes his side can do the unthinkable and win the competition

How is Malang Sarr faring?

The 21-year-old arrived at Chelsea last summer from Nice and was immediately shipped out to Porto on a loan deal, but it has not gone so well for the Frenchman thus far.

Sarr has struggled to establish himself as a first team regular under Conceicao. He has featured in just eight league games this season and was relegated to the second team instead of being named in the squad for last weekend’s visit of Santa Clara. 

Chelsea loanee Malang Sarr is not faring well and is expected to head back to Stamford Bridge

According to Portuguese outlet Record, Sarr has been told that he will return to Stamford Bridge this summer with Porto chiefs unwilling to make his stay permanent. 

Sarr would prefer to return to Chelsea, anyway, with the Frenchman wanting to fight for his place under Tuchel.

The youngster’s versatility in being able to operate at centre back and left back may prove an attractive quality for the German, who will look to mould his squad this summer as he bids to close the gap on Manchester City.

Although Sarr has failed to flourish in Portugal, he did play for an hour in the second leg at Juventus and helped his ten-man side hold on for a famous victory.   

The youngster’s best moment came in the last round where he helped the 10-men through

Porto’s history with Chelsea

Look away now, Porto fans. These two sides have met eight times in Europe, with the Portuguese winning twice, while Chelsea have five victories.

The pair first met in September 2004, when Jose Mourinho took on his former club at Stamford Bridge. Goals from John Terry, Didier Drogba and Aleksey Smertin were on the scoresheet in a 3-1 win. 

Chelsea last met Wednesday night’s opponents in the Group Stage of the 2015 competition. Porto were victorious at the Estadio do Dragao, while Chelsea won the reverse fixture in west London.  

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