Manuel Veth –
Porto vs Roma – Wednesday, March 6, 20:00GMT/21:00CET – Estádio do Dragão, Porto, Portugal
Roma may have defeated Porto for the first time in the club’s history, but the late goal by Adrian Lopez that made it 1-2 will give the Dragões some hope ahead of the return leg.
“The goal gives us hope,” Iker Casillas admitted this weekend. At the same time, Porto had a weekend to forget losing to Benfica in the league, which also meant that the Dragões lost first place in the league to their rivals. But Casillas was adamant that the result in the league will not have an impact on the Champions League.
“It will be a completely different game. We got 90 minutes to turn this around I am convinced we can do just that,” Casillas said. “First and foremost we have to be more consequential than we were against Benfica this weekend,” the goalkeeper added.
Casillas and Porto will also take some solace in the fact that the weekend did not go much better for Roma either. After five games without a defeat (four wins and one defeat) the Giallorossi lost 3-0 in the city derby against Lazio.
“It was a punch in the face, and we deserved to lose the game. If we play like that we will be eliminated by Porto,” captain Daniele de Rossi told the press after the game.
The result means that Roma have dropped to fifth in the standings and would currently not qualify for the Champions League. Champions League football and the quarterfinal are the minimum targets for this season. Both are presently jeopardized following Porto’s away goal and the result against Lazio.
Roma, however, have managed to advance in 26 out of 30 occasions if they won the first leg in a European competition. The Italians also have more quality than the Portuguese side and should have enough in the tank to advance to the next round.
Porto vs Roma – Players to look out for:
Tiquinho Soares #7 – Porto
The 28-year-old Brazilian forward Tiquinho Soares is Porto’s top scorer this season. The forward has scored 14 goals and five assists in 23 games for Porto in all competitions but surprisingly was not part of Porto’s Champions League squad during the group stage. A fact that the Portuguese rectified for the second stage of the tournament, in particular, because of top scorer Vincent Aboubakar’s ACL injury, which will keep him out of the squad for the rest of the season. Soares, in fact, has benefited from Aboubakar’s injury problems filling the void left by the striker in spectacular fashion helping Porto to once again greet from the top of the Primeira Liga table.
Bryan Cristante #4 – Roma
Bryan Cristante was one of the biggest emerging talents in Italy last season. The central midfielder was part of an Atlanta Bergamo side that turned some heads in the Europa League by reaching the round of 32, where they were eliminated by Borussia Dortmund, and by helping his side to finish seventh in Serie A. Cristante at the time was on loan from Benfica but Atalanta had a loan-to-buy clause that allowed them to make the deal permanent for €5 million, which was quickly triggered this summer and capitalised on by moving Cristante on to Roma, where he is on a loan to buy deal that will earn Atalanta up to €25 million. At Roma, Cristante has been excellent playing 24 games and scoring four goals and three assists.
Porto vs Roma – Match Stats
- The defeat to Roma in the first leg was Porto’s first ever defeat to the Italian side.
- Porto were unbeaten in their four previous matches with Roma, knocking out the Italian side in the second round of the 1981/82 European Cup Winners’ Cup thanks to a 2-0 home first-leg victory that took them through by the same aggregate scoreline.
- Roma had lost five successive matches in the round of 16 before that second-leg win against Shakhtar last season.
- Džeko scored in Roma’s last five knockout matches in last season’s competition.
- Roma’s record in two-legged knockout ties against Portuguese sides is W3 L3; the 2016/17 defeat by Porto ended a run of three successive victories.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Porto vs Roma – 1-1
Porto vs Roma – Lineups
Casillas – Alex Telles, Pepe, Filipe, Éder Militão – Óliver Torres, Herrera, Pereira – Brahimi, Corona, Tiquinho Soares
Head Coach: Sérgio Conceição
Olsen – Kolarov, Marcano, Fazio, Karsdorp – Nzonzi, de Rossi, Cristante – El Shaarawy, Džeko, Zaniolo
Head Coach: Eusebio Di Francesco
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.