Champions League opponents: FC Porto in the spotlight

Champions League opponents: FC Porto in the spotlight

Coached by Sérgio Conceição since 2017, the Portuguese side have a very clear and competitive approach

The first away trip of this season's European competition comes on matchday two of the Champions League group stage, when Barça visit the Estadio do Dragão on 4 October to take on FC Porto. The Portuguese side may be somewhat more familiar to blaugrana fans than the first opponents, Royal Antwerp. Here's an insight into what facing the Dragons might entail.

A two-time European Cup winner competing in many sports

FC Porto are one of the 23 sides in Europe to be crowned Europe's best club side and one of 13 to achieve that feat at least twice. They won the European Cup in the 1986/87 season with Madjer and Futre in the side, and in the 2003/04 season, with Mourinho at the helm and Vitor Baía, Ricardo Carvalho and current Barça sporting director Deco in the team.

They are a major force in Portugal, of course, with no fewer than 30 league titles and 23 Copa wins, with only Benfica having won more trophies. This is much more than just a football club, though, as is the case with Barça. They are the current European roller hockey champions, but they also compete in basketball, handball, volleyball, swimming, boxing, and even billiards.

Past meetings

Clearly two such historic clubs like Barça and Porto have crossed paths several times, playing a total of eight competitive games. The first two came in the 1972/73 UEFA Cup first round - the only times the blaugranas have lost to the Dragons, 3-1 away and 0-1 at home.

Five games came in the Champions League or in the European Cup as it was known. The away goal scored in the 3-1 defeat in the 1985/86 season saw Barça through to the round of 16 after winning 2-0 in the first leg at home. The one legged semi-final match in 1993/94 saw the blaugranas through by a brace by Stoichkov and one goal by Koeman.

The last time the teams faced off in Europe's premier club competition was in the 1999/00 season, Barça winning 4-2 at home and 0-2 in Portugal. However the last meeting between the sides saw the blaugranas win the 2011 European Super Cup, Messi and Cesc Fàbregas scoring the goals.

Sérgio Conceição at the helm

Any analysis of FC Porto requires closer inspection of coach Sérgio Conceição. Now in his seventh season in the role, he and the club have won 10 trophies. He has instilled a winning mentality, starting with winning the league in his first season after four in a row for Benfica, going on to make it three out of six, but still finishing second in the other three seasons. They have also won three Copas, three Portuguese Super Cups and one Copa de la Liga.

FC Porto are a highly competitive team, as was seen during their performance in Europe, notably pushing last season's CL finalists Inter Milan hard before ultimately losing the last 16 tie.

Pragmatism at its finest

The games against the Portuguese side will see contrasting styles. Conceição has instilled a fast, direct approach, getting the ball up the pitch as quickly as possible, from the boots of formidable players such as 40 year old captain and former Real Madrid player Pepe and Spaniard Iván Marcano.

Full-backs Joao Mario and Wendell are quick, but so are wingers, Pepê and Galeno, a dangerous duo who supply the dual strike force of Spaniard Toni Martínez and last season's league top scorer, Iranian Mehdi Taremi.

Former blaugrana in the engine room

Porto's midfield is known for its dynamism and their players need to be physically able to cover large distances. A notable addition who has slotted into the system is former blaugrana, Nico González.

La Masia-trained before going on loan to Valencia, the Galician left the Club this summer for Porto to form a central midfield duo with Canadian player Eustáquio. They also have one of Europe's best keepers in goal, national team stopper Diogo Costa. FC Porto will be giving their all to progress from the group stage as they have done in six of the last seven seasons.

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