Barça goes to Porto for the final exam

Barça goes to Porto for the final exam

The ‘culers’ face the co-leader and great rival of the group in Do Dragão


FC Barcelona visits FC Porto this Wednesday at the Estádio do Dragão (9:00 p.m.), on the second day of the group stage of the Champions League, in the most complicated exit in this Group H for Xavi Hernández’s men, who will have to pass an early final exam with the goal of emerging, at the very least, as co-leaders.

Neither Shakhtar Donetsk nor Royal Antwerp should, in theory, be rivals for Porto and Barça in this Group H. At the moment, after the dispute on the first day, ‘dragons’ and ‘culers’ are co-leaders after beating Shakthar (1-3 ) and Antwerp (5-0), respectively.

A good start to the championship that should now have continuity. Barça knows, since this was confirmed by the Blaugrana coach after beating Sevilla FC on the last day of LaLiga EA Sports, that a draw in Porto could even be good since Barça would depend on itself and Montjuïc to look for a possible direct leadership.

However, coming from two consecutive eliminations in this group stage, Barça cannot, nor should it, speculate. Beating your strongest rival at home can serve as a catapult. On an emotional level, in terms of gaining peace of mind and a first cushion of security points. But, above all, to be able to send a message of strength to the rest of the rivals.

Of course, neither Frenkie De Jong, Raphinha nor Pedri will be at the Estádio do Dragão, all injured and already absent in the narrow victory against Sevilla FC, with an own goal by Sergio Ramos, in the league victory last Friday. On the other hand, there will be and in the starting eleven, barring a surprise, a João Félix who came through the youth ranks of Porto, who went to rival Benfica and now returns as one of the ‘culers’ beacons.

With João Félix in full flow, with 3 goals and 2 assists in his first 6 games as a Blaugrana, this Barça is increasingly well-rounded and close to the version that should allow them to pass this group stage without any problems. The Portuguese brings verticality, dribbling, magic and goals and, like his compatriot João Cancelo, they have both fallen on their feet in this Xavi’s Barça.

But this FC Porto of Sérgio Conceição wants to fight face to face with Xavi’s Barça. “We are going to enter the game thinking that we can and that we must win. With confidence. The respect we have for the opponent does not have to limit us,” said the Portuguese coach before the game.

A duel for which he will not be able to count on the centre-backs Iván Marcano or Pepe – two veterans aged 36 and 40 – nor with the full-back Zaidu, and in which above all he will miss the Brazilian center forward Evanilson, with problems of knee and could not make his debut against Shakhtar. And, neither, with the ex-Blaugrana Nico González, who will not arrive on time and will not face his former teammates.

The last confrontation between Porto and Barça was in the final of the 2011 European Super Cup, with the Catalans winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Leo Messi and Cesc Fàbregas. In ‘Champions’, the last precedent is more distant, from the 1999/2000 season, in the second group stage and two Blaugrana triumphs; 4-2 in Barcelona and 0-2 in Porto.



FC PORTO: Diogo Costa; João Mário, Fábio Cardoso, David Carmo, Wendell; Varela, Eustáquio; Galeno, Iván Jaime, Pepê; y Taremi.

FC BARCELONA: Ter Stegen; João Cancelo, Araújo, Koundé, Balde; Oriol Romeu, Gündogan, Gavi; Ferran Torres, Lewandowski and João Félix.

–STADIUM: Estádio do Dragão.

–REFEREE: Anthony Taylor (ENG).

–TIME: 9:00 p.m./Movistar Champions League.