Villaflor: Porto vs. Chelsea

Noel Villaflor
·2 min read

Each of the quarterfinals pairings of the Champions League that will be held in the first week of April are what one might call finals material.

Bayern Munich vs. Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid vs. Liverpool will have a number of fans wishing that the encounters took place later in the tournament.

Bayern vs. PSG is essentially a rematch of the 2020 finals, which the Germans won by the smallest of margins at 1-0.

But the draws for this season’s last eight are done, so better just take a peek at a couple of matchups to kill time.

Manchester City vs. Borussia Dortmund is interesting, but it is Chelsea vs. Porto that’s getting me really curious.

None are title favorites, but both clubs have pedigree as each of them has lifted the Champions League trophy at least once.

Porto won the title in 2004 and in 1987, when the competition was still called the European Cup.

Chelsea were crowned champions in 2012, their first and only European triumph.

But this year, Chelsea vs. Porto is a clash between underdogs, and by the middle of April, only one will remain standing to face the winner of Real Madrid vs. Liverpool in the semifinals.

Now on a 14-game winning streak under new manager Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea will be favored to edge Porto.

The Blues disposed of title pretenders and La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid 3-0 on aggregate in the Round of 16, a masterclass performance by Tuchel who brought out the best of his wards.

And Tuchel has the depth in midfield and attack with the likes of Tammy Abraham, Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner, any of whom is as dangerous as any among the elites of Europe.

But Porto will not be a pushover, and the team’s physicality can pose problems for the Blues.

Porto manager Sergio Conceicao steered his club to victory on away goals at the expense of Cristiano Ronaldo-led Juventus in an epic Round of 16 battle that ended 4-4 on aggregate.

This time, the Portuguese manager can draw inspiration from countryman Jose Mourinho, who won the title for Porto in 2004.

But Conceicao has to go through Tuchel first when Porto hosts Chelsea on April 8 in the first leg of their quarterfinal clash.