Roma vs Porto ; The 2019 UEFA Champions League knock-out stages resume on Tuesday night. They kick-off with a match-up of 2018 Semi-Finalists, AS Roma, versus 2018 Portuguese Champions, FC Porto.
There have only been four matches between these two sides in European competition to date. In 1981 they met in the last 16 of the, now defunct, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. Porto won the tie 2-0 on aggregate, with both goals coming in the home leg.
More recently, they met in the Qualification Round of the UEFA Champions League at the start of the 2016/17 season. Roma felt they took the away goal advantage back to Rome after a 1-1 in Porto. However, after going a goal down, they lost their heads in front of their own fans with both Daniele De Rossi and Emerson seeing red five minutes either side of half-time. The match, and their Champions League hopes for the season, ended in a disappointing 0-3 defeat.
So, Roma will likely come into this match motivated to set the record straight in front of their own fans and finally notch a win here against FC Porto at the third time of asking.
Roma have been excellent at home lately, winning four of their last five matches here in all competitions.
Although, they have yet to defeat Porto in any of the four occasions they have faced each other. Their home record against Portuguese opposition includes just three wins from seven matches.
Still, with home advantage, the bookies have them as evens to win the match and take a lead to Portugal for the return leg.
These sides have drawn on two of the four occasions they have faced each other. You can get odds of 5/2 for another draw here.
Porto won on their last visit to the Olimpico di Roma. However, they rarely enjoy their trips to Italy. Of their sixteen matches in Italy, they have won four, drawn three and lost nine. They would likely take any score draw if offered.
Can they repeat Rome 2016 though? They are 13/5 outsiders to grab another win here.
Edin Dzeko has been on fire this season in the Champions League. He has five goals already in just four appearances. However, after his brace against Moscow here back in October, he went eleven games for club and country without finding the net. He seems to have found that scoring touch again recently though.
Dzeko followed up a brace against Atalanta with a goal and assist against Chievo at the weekend. He is 7/2 to open the scoring here and 21/20 to score at any time.
Stephan El Shaarawy has been picking up most of the goal-scoring slack for Dzeko this season in Serie A. He is their top scorer in the league with eight goals, including goals in three of his last five games. He is 7/1 to open the scoring here and 9/4 to score at anytime.
Porto’s two top scorers in the Champions League this season are both unavailable. Therefore, they are likely to look to their top scorer in the league, Tiquinho Soares, to grab an away goal for them here. He is 6/1 to open the scoring here and 15/8 to score at any time.
Porto are the top side in Portuguese football at the moment. After four years without a domestic league title, they won the Primeira Liga last season. They are top of the table once again this season. However, as is often the case in European competition, it is unlikely they approach this fixture as they would against a Portuguese opponent.
Therefore, it is best to look at their performances in the Champions League this season. They dominated possession against Lokomotiv Moscow and Schalke, creating with short, central passes in open play. Oliver Torres in particular was dangerous with through passes around the box.
Whereas against Galatasaray, they played more of a classic counter attacking game and ruthlessly finished off what few chances they created.
Roma vs FC Porto: Playing for Set-Pieces
One consistent theme though for Porto, was their ability to create good scoring chances with their set pieces. They created twenty-two chances in total from set-pieces in the group stages. Ten of those were against Galatasaray alone, who were the only side who dominated possession against them on the two occasions they faced each other.
However, Roma are no strangers to set-pieces themselves. They created more chances from set-pieces than anybody in the group stages, with thirty-two.
Roughly 31.5% of the chances for both sides came from set-pieces. Only Benfica (35.5%) and PSV (34.5%) created a greater proportion of their chances with them.
However, where the two sides differed was in their conversion of those chances. Roma managing just two goals; a set-piece conversion rate of just 6%. While Porto managed four goals from set-piece situations, giving them the best conversion rate of them in the competition with 18%.
Porto also scored three goals from penalties in the tournament so far, which is also the (joint) highest amount in the competition.
The message needs to be very clear from Eusebio Di Francesco before his players walk out on the pitch on Tuesday: “Don’t touch the Porto players in and around our own box. We can’t afford it!”
Robin Olsen has been struggling with a calf injury. He missed the game against Chievo at the weekend and is expected to miss this match also. Antonio Mirante looks likely to start in his place.
Rick Karsdorp seems to have grabbed his chance at right-back with both hands in early 2019. He is currently keeping Davide Santon out of the side and expected to pick up his first Champions League start of the season here.
Kostas Manolas missed the match at the weekend due to a groin strain. Iván Marcano will take his place at the heart of the defence for only his second starting appearance of the season in Europe.
Due to the injuries to Patrik Schick (Bicep muscle injury), Diego Perotti (Calf) and Cengiz Ünder (Torn Muscle Fibre), Justin Kluivert looks likely to get a rare start for Roma here.
Jesús Corona is suspended for the game against Roma. He picked up a yellow card against Schalke on Matchday 5; his second of the tournament. This caused him to miss the final group game against Galatasaray. However, he was found guilty by UEFA of forcing that yellow card against Schalke to avoid a suspension in the knock-out stages. Therefore, he will miss Tuesday’s game also.
Vincent Aboubakar (Cruciate Ligament Rupture) also misses the game. This makes Otávio the most likely to replace Corona in the side.
Moussa Marega (Thigh Muscle Strain) will miss the game due to injury. He was their top scorer in the Champions League this season, with five goals in six appearances. They will look upon Tiquinho Soares to try and replace his output.
Pepe will make his Champions League debut for Porto after his arrival in January. He is eligible to play as he only featured in the Europa League for Besiktas this season.