Champions League: Porto vs. Arsenal match preview, prediction, team news, lineups

Champions League: Porto vs. Arsenal match preview, prediction, team news, lineups
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Champions League: Porto vs. ArsenalArsenal will return to the Champions League knockout stages after a seven-year absence when they fly to Portugal on Wednesday night for the opening leg of their match against Porto in the last sixteen.

After finishing second in Group H behind Barcelona, Sergio Conceicao‘s squad made it into the knockout stages. The Gunners defeated Group B to set up a rematch with them.

Because Benfica and Braga finished third in the Champions League group stage, they were forced to continue their continental campaigns in the Europa League.

As a result, Porto is the only Portuguese team remaining in Europe’s top competition and has advanced to the elimination rounds six times in the previous seven seasons.

Champions League: Porto vs. Arsenal match preview, prediction, team news, lineups

Group H played out pretty much as expected. Porto finished second behind Barcelona after defeating Royal Antwerp and Shakhtar Donetsk four times in a row.

Despite having a better goal differential than the La Liga winners, they were forced to settle for second place due to their inferior head-to-head record.

The Primeira Liga giants have another opportunity to make amends in the Champions League thanks to their 12-point haul.

They haven’t advanced past the final eight since the 1993–94 competition, and their 2022–23 campaign came to an end at this point due to a 1-0 aggregate loss to Inter Milan.

In seven of their previous eight Champions League knockout matches against English teams, Porto has also lost.

However, the one occasion in which they succeeded in eliminating a Premier League team—beating Manchester United in the round of 16 in 2004—they went on to become the continent’s most successful team.

Twenty years later, Conceicao’s club is hosting Arsenal at the Estadio do Dragao and has gone 10-games without losing in all competitions.

Most recently, the Dragons defeated Estrela Amadora 2-0 in Saturday’s Primeira Liga match, recording their fifth straight clean sheet at home.

Porto’s defence has only allowed five goals in their past ten games played in front of their own supporters, but in a rain-soaked Premier League encounter against Burnley on Saturday afternoon, a ruthless Arsenal produced the same amount of goals in ninety minutes.

A week after destroying West Ham United 6-0 and creating a new club record for their largest Premier League away victory, the free-scoring Gunners created history at Turf Moor by becoming the first team in their storied 138-year history to win their first five league games of the calendar year.

Since Arsenal returned from a very valuable training camp in Dubai, Gooners have celebrated a whopping 21 goals in five Premier League games.

Mikel Arteta’s team is still in the running for an unexpected top-flight and Champions League double, and they made a spectacular return to the competition.

Only Real Sociedad (two) advanced to the round of sixteen with a stronger defensive record than the Gunners, who finished sixth with a game remaining after conceding just four goals in their six games against Sevilla, Lens, and PSV Eindhoven.

Champions League: Porto vs. Arsenal match preview, prediction, team news, lineups

But all four of those goals that rocketed past Arsenal came from away from home, and the Gunners have been dogged by the last-16 curse ever since the 2010–11 season, having been eliminated seven times in a row before their period in the Europa League basement.

The Gunners are still waiting for their first-ever away victory against the Portuguese powerhouses, but the last time they advanced to the quarterfinals in the 2009–10 campaign, it was because of a 6-2 aggregate thumping of Porto in the last 16.

Porto Champions League form:

W L W W L W

Porto form (all competitions):

W W W D L W

Arsenal Champions League form:

W L W W W D

Arsenal form (all competitions):

L W W W W W

Conceicao’s weekend saw Porto defeat Estrela, but it was not exactly the ideal evening as Nigerian left-back Zaidu Sanusi was carted out in the 32nd minute due to a full anterior cruciate ligament tear, sidelining him for the rest of the season.

Conceicao should rely on Jorge Sanchez to join the hosts’ defence, which still includes 40-year-old veteran Pepe, while Sanusi is one of two Dragons defenders recovering from ACL injuries. Ivan Marcano has little chance of returning before the season ends.

Stephen Eustaquio, the centre of midfield, may not be available given that he missed the most recent victory over Estrela, but Alan Varela at least overcame pain to play the entire ninety minutes.

Mehdi Taremi should play up front with Evanilson, who scored four goals in five group stage games and 19 goals overall for the 2023–24 season, ahead of his expected free transfer to Inter Milan this summer.

Regarding Arsenal, Emile Smith Rowe recovered from an ankle injury in time to start on the bench against Burnley, while Takehiro Tomiyasu (knock), Oleksandr Zinchenko (calf), and Gabriel Jesus (knee) were not cleared to play and are still questionable.

Although he has been included in the Gunners’ squad for the knockout stages, Jurrien Timber is still recovering from an ACL injury, and Fabio Vieira (groyne) and Thomas Partey (thigh) are nearing full recovery from surgery.

Vieira may play against his old team, but Arteta doesn’t need to change his starting lineup, so any participation for the Portuguese national team will undoubtedly come from the bench.

Porto possible starting lineup:

Costa; Mario, Pepe, Otavio, Sanchez; Pepe, Varela, Gonzalez, Galeno; Taremi, Evanilson

Arsenal possible starting lineup:

Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior; Odegaard, Rice, Havertz; Saka, Trossard, Martinelli

Our prediction for this match 2-0 or 3-1 won by Arsenal

Champions League: Porto vs. Arsenal match preview, prediction, team news, lineups

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