“I dream of my fourth Champions”. The words of captain Pepe, at 38, reflect the ambition of this Porto that, after the feat of eliminating Juventus, now dares in the quarterfinals with Chelsea. The winner of this tie will face Real Madrid or Liverpool for a place in the grand final in Istanbul.
Not even the restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic stop Porto, forced to play both the home leg and the return match at the Sánchez-Pizjuán in Seville. Neither did the significant casualties due to the accumulation of cards by Mehdi Taremi, who scored a goal against Juventus in Do Dragao, and Sergio Oliveira, a hero in Turin with his two goals, the second in extra time.
Captain Pepe’s recipe
“We are going humility, passion and concentration,” said in Porto, before traveling to Seville, a Pepe fought in a thousand battles after the three Champions League won with Real Madrid. “There are no impossible things, whoever does not believe cannot wear this shirt,” proclaimed his coach, Sergio Conceiçao, despite recalling that Porto spent 25 million euros on signings this season and Chelsea ten times more: 250.
If José Mourinho’s Porto won the UEFA Champions League in 2003 against Celtic (3-2) in La Cartuja, Chelsea, Atlético’s executioner in the second round, Pizjuán brings back good memories. There they already played in December in the group stage and beat Sevilla 0-4 with 4 goals from an immense Olivier Giroud. Everything indicates that Thomas Tuchel will align the veteran French striker at the leading edge.
Saturday’s 2-5 stings at Chelsea
The tie comes just after the German manager suffered the first loss in his 15th game since taking over from Frank Lampard in January. A resounding 2-5 against West Brom, penultimate in the Premier, which has cast doubt on Chelsea in defense. N’Golo Kanté, who came back with muscular problems from the French team, was low but will start on the bench today.
Tuchel, with good feelings
Tuchel said in yesterday’s press conference that goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and defender Antonio Rüdiger made peace after their fight in training on Sunday and will not be punished. “We defused the situation immediately and they solved it honestly and humbly,” he said. From 2-5 on Saturday, he admitted: “It was a big slap, but it took to remind us how difficult it is to keep winning.” And today’s game? “I have the feeling that we can win, but it will be tough.”
Porto: Marchesín; Manafa, Mbemba, Pepe, Sanusi; Corona, Grujic, Uribe, Otávio; Marega and Luis Díaz
Coach: Sergio Conceiçao
Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, Christensen: Reece James, Jorginho, Kopvacic, Marcos Alonso; Mount, Werner: Giroud
Coach: Thomas Tuchel
Referee: Slavko Vincic (Slovenia)
Stadium: Sánchez-Pizjuán de Sevilla, 9:00 p.m.