Chelsea will be aiming to cruise through to the UEFA Champions League semi-final when they take on FC Porto on Tuesday night in Spain.
Chelsea will have their sights set on qualification for the penultimate round of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League when they lock horns with Portuguese giants FC Porto in the quarter-final second leg at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in Spain.
Like the first leg, the second leg will also play out at the same stadium in Seville due to travel restrictions owing to the pandemic. Chelsea, having been the ‘away’ team last time out, will be the ‘hosts’ this Tuesday and walk into the game with a crucial 2-0 advantage courtesy of goals from Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell.
Following that win, the Blues put up their best display under Thomas Tuchel this past weekend when they beat Crystal Palace 4-1 away from home and will be aiming to carry that momentum forward. As for Porto, following the first leg defeat they were able to bounce back to winning ways, defeating Tondela 2-0 in the Portuguese top-flight.
However, it will take a monumental effort from Sergio Conceicao’s men to overturn the two-goal deficit from the first leg and book a place in the semi-final. Nonetheless, it promises to be an exciting encounter between two strong teams and ahead of the game, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both squads.
Team News & Tactics
Heading into the game, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has no major injury concern. Andreas Christensen, who missed the weekend clash against Crystal Palace has travelled to Spain with the rest of the squad. However, the Dane might not be rushed back into action by the Blues’ boss.
Nonetheless, there are likely to be some changes made to the side that saw off the Eagles at the weekend. Thiago Silva, who has had a good one-week rest after having missed the Palace clash due to suspension, should slot in at the heart of the Chelsea defence, flanked by Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger.
Callum Hudson-Odoi should make way for Reece James at right wing-back owing to the Englishman’s more well-rounded defensive capabilities while Ben Chilwell is expected to continue on the left ahead of Marcos Alonso. Edouard Mendy remains the first choice in goal.
Moving into the middle of the park, N’Golo Kante has been allowed to build his fitness with substitute appearances in the last two matches. But the Frenchman could be in line for a start on Tuesday night against Porto, with Mateo Kovacic partnering him. The former will be tasked with breaking up play in the centre will the latter will look to provide the attacking impetus.
Mason Mount, based on his current form, is undroppable for Tuchel at the moment. And Christian Pulisic, after his stunning display at the weekend, should be rewarded with another start, which also holds true for Kai Havertz. That would mean the likes of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech miss out once again.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kante, Kovacic, Chilwell; Mount, Pulisic; Havertz
FC Porto, meanwhile, have been handed a double boost ahead of the quarter-final second leg as key players Mehdi Taremi and Sergio Oliveira are back in contention after missing out last week due to suspension. However, Mouhamed Mbaye remains unavailable for selection for the Portuguese outfit.
Like he usually does, manager Sergio Conceicao will set his Porto side up in a 4-4-2 formation in front of goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin, who could once again be in for a busy night. Wilson Manafa and Zaidu Sanusi ought to be the two full-backs who will have the license to push forward when in possession. Veteran defender Pepe will partner Chancel Mbemba at the centre.
Jesus Corona and Nicolas Otavio will carry a major threat from the wide areas for Porto and will be the main supply line of chances for the two strikers. In midfield, there will be one change from the first leg as Oliveira should replace Marko Grujic and look to provide offensive support going forward. Mateus Uribe will try to hold the fort in the middle of the park.
Moussa Marega is a certain starter in the two-pronged strikeforce. Luis Diaz, who looked lively in the first leg, will drop out though, to make room for the returning Taremi.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Marchesin; Manafa, Pepe, Mbemba, Sanusi; Corona, Uribe, Oliveira, Otavio; Marega, Taremi
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their nine games in UEFA Champions League this season (W7 D2), winning seven of their last eight.
- Porto are winless in their last seven Champions League meetings against teams from England (D2 L5). Their last win against an English team in the competition came in December 2016 against Leicester City.
- Chelsea have kept a clean sheet in seven of their last nine matches in the Champions League.
- There have been only four previous occasions of a team progressing after losing the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie without scoring a goal at ‘home’ – Ajax vs Panathinaikos in 1995/96, Inter Milan vs Bayern Munich in 2010/11, Man Utd vs PSG and Tottenham vs Ajax, both in 2018/19.
- Chelsea have won their last four home matches against Porto in all competitions.
Player to Watch
It has been a difficult season for the USMNT star who has had to struggle with intermittent fitness problems while the change in management, tactics and style of play has also hampered his chances of regular game-time. However, over the past couple of weeks, Pulisic has shown signs of finding his groove again.
He was on the scoresheet in the sorry defeat to West Bromwich Albion and scored a brilliant double against Crystal Palace leading Chelsea to an emphatic victory this past weekend. Things finally seem to be clicking for the former Borussia Dortmund man at Chelsea and it is imperative that he carries the momentum forward.
Chelsea 2-0 FC Porto
After the blip against West Brom, Chelsea have found their footing again and seem to have unlocked their attacking potential as well, as they dispatched Crystal Palace with comfort this past weekend. Porto, however, will pose a much bigger threat, more so now than in the first leg as they have the likes Sergio Oliveira and Mehdi Taremi back.
The Blues, however, have time and again shown their defensive resilience under Thomas Tuchel over the past few months and that should come to the fore again, allowing them to ease to another win and book a place in the UEFA Champions League semi-final.