Preview: FC Porto v Zenit

championsleague

Zenit and Hulk travel to the Dragao this evening, in search of a win which has eluded them thus far in this years competition. Hosts Porto will be hoping to bounce back from the previous matchday defeat to Atletico Madrid, whereas Zenit could only manage a disappointing 0-0 draw with Austria Wien. 

Both Porto and Zenit have been in fine form domestically and both currently sit top of their league tables. At the weekend Zenit comfortably saw off previous pace setters CSKA 2-0 at the Petrovsky and they will be hoping to continue their strong league form, and turn it into wins in the Champions League. Porto also won at the weekend, despite resting key players in a 1-0 win in the Portuguese cup against lower league opposition.

Team News 

Zenit have no real injury concerns and have a nigh on fully fit squad to take to Portugal. Previously, goalkeeper Malafeev has been out injured, but he returned to the bench in the weekend’s win over CSKA.

Zenit will be without midfield playmaker Axel Witsel though, as he was sent off in the previous group stage encounter with Austria Wien. The Belgian is sure to be a big miss for Spalletti’s men.

Porto too have a near full squad for tonight’s crunch match. Coach Fonsesca has recalled key players such as Otamendi and Lica back to the squad after they were rested at the weekend. Just Russian midfielder Izmaylov missed training this week, for family reasons.

 

Will Hulk and co miss Witsel's creativity in Portugal?

Will Hulk and co miss Witsel’s creativity in Portugal?

Tactics 

A possible Zenit team for the game v Porto

A possible Zenit team for the game v Porto

As you can see in the diagram, I have put together a starting 11 in which Spalletti may pick, a 4-2-3-1 formation with Kerzakhov up front supported by the brilliance of Danny and the power of Hulk. However, due to the depth of Zenit’s squad, Spalletti may choose to play with a similar 11 that beat CSKA, where Hulk started up front.

I expect Faizulin to play, due to his movement and dynamism, which can really help Zenit in games like this. Whoever plays in the fullback positions, they will have to strike a balance between supporting attacks and not getting caught out, so expect to see one venture forward, whilst the other holds back.

Hulk and Danny, if selected on the wings, have to be prepared to attack down the line, even though this is unnatural to them, otherwise Zenit can become predictable.

Danger Men

Jackson Martinez (Porto)- Porto have class players in multiple positions, such as midfielder Quintero, highly rated defenders Mangala and Otamendi as well as experienced players such as Lucho Gonzalez and Helton. However, the real threat to Zenit will be Colombian hitman Jackson Martinez. Nicknamed ‘El Pantera Negra’ Jackson Martinez really does have a killer instinct in front of goal. Many of Europe’s top clubs are reportedly monitoring his progress so Zenit will have to be guarded.

Hulk (Zenit)- Hulk returns to the Dragao for the first time since leaving Porto for Zenit in 2012, so he will have something to prove. Hulk is world class on his day, and possesses a left foot shot that not many can match in terms of power and quality. Expect Hulk to be eager to impress, and the home fans will be all too aware of the danger he can cause.

Porto's hitman will be a real threat to Zenit.

Porto’s hitman will be a real threat to Zenit.

Will Hulk have a happy return to his former club?

Will Hulk have a happy return to his former club?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stat Zone 

Porto have had mixed fortunes in the Champions League thus far, losing at home to Atletico and beating Austria Wien. Here we take a look at what Zenit can expect from Tuesday’s opponents.

Porto in the CL so far:

Goals For 2
Average goals scored per game 1
Headed Goals 0
Goals from Inside area 2
Goals from outside area 0
Shots on Target 10
Shots off target 14
Passes Attempted 1269
Passes Completed 952
Pass Completion 75%
Average Possession 62%
Corners 11
Yellow Cards 4
As you can see from the stats, Porto are used to dominating the game, with a 62% possession average and a decent pass completion rate. Zenit will have to be patient and try to hit Porto on the break at the right moment.
Porto will be concerned with their lack of goals thus far and will be looking to their front men to be more clinical against Zenit this evening.
Prediction 
Both sides will see this as a real crucial encounter. For example, if Zenit lose, they are pretty much out of the reckoning for advancing from the group stages.  However, a Zenit victory would put them above Porto with three left to play, including two home matches. I expect it to be a good but tight game, in which I expect Porto to just edge it.
Porto 2-1 Zenit

Author: Josh Mart

Comments

  1. Doko Albania says:

    Zenit are by far the most qualitative russian team. They have many good players and
    coach as well. What is strange for me is the fact that they get the money by russian taxpayers and not from private companies or entity. This is a shamefor that kind of capitalism which Russia is building, taking into account that many russian oligarcs invest the money abroad

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