In the anticipated clash between FC Barcelona and FC Porto, both teams are dealing with key player absences due to injuries. FC Barcelona will be without three crucial players: Raphinha, Pedri, and Frenkie de Jong. These injuries pose a significant challenge for the Catalan side, as these players are key contributors to their success.
On the other side, Porto’s injury list includes veteran captain Pepe, who is a familiar face for Barcelona fans from his Real Madrid days. Iván Marcano is sidelined long-term, and Evanilson, Gabriel Veron, and Zaidu Sanusi are also unlikely to feature in the match. These absences will force both teams to adapt their strategies.
Nico González: A Familiar Face Returns
The game against FC Porto holds a special significance for Barcelona as they will face off against their former La Masia product, Nico González. The young midfielder, who rose through the ranks to make it to the Barcelona first team during the 2021/22 season, spent the previous year on loan at Valencia before being signed by Porto in July. His return to face his former club adds an interesting subplot to the match.
Porto’s Most Capped Players
Porto boasts a roster with experienced international players, and some of their most capped players include Pepe (Portugal, 134 caps), Mehdi Taremi (Iran, 70 caps), Jorge Sánchez (Mexico, 36 caps), Stephen Eustáquio (Canada, 32 caps), Marko Grujić (Serbia, 23 caps), Diogo Costa (Portugal, 16 caps), and Zaidu Sanusi (Nigeria, 15 caps). These players bring a wealth of experience to the Porto side.
Previous Meetings: History Between Barça and Porto
FC Barcelona and FC Porto, two historic clubs, have crossed paths several times in competitive matches. They have played a total of eight competitive games, with the first two encounters occurring in the 1972/73 UEFA Cup first round. Notably, these were the only times Barcelona suffered official losses to the Dragons, with Porto winning 3-1 away and 1-0 at home.
In the Champions League or the European Cup as it was known in the past, these teams faced off five times. An away goal in the 3-1 defeat in the 1985/86 season saw Barcelona advance to the round of 16 after a 2-0 win at home. The one-legged semi-final match in 1993/94 saw Barcelona advance with goals from Stoichkov and Koeman.
European encounter between these sides was in the 1999/00 season when Barcelona won 4-2 at home and 0-2 in Portugal. However, the last meeting between them saw Barcelona secure victory in the 2011 European Super Cup, with Messi and Cesc Fàbregas finding the net.
Current Form: Unbeaten Streaks and Recent Results
As both teams prepare to clash in the Champions League, FC Barcelona is yet to be beaten in any competition this season. They have only dropped points in draws against Getafe and Mallorca, which caused them to temporarily relinquish the top spot in the league table despite a hard-fought 1-0 win over Sevilla.
Porto, on the other hand, had enjoyed a strong run in the league, winning every game until a recent setback against Benfica. However, their victories were often by narrow margins, never exceeding a one-goal difference. Benfica managed to defeat them in the Portuguese Super Cup, marking Porto’s first reverse of the season.
Historical Significance: Porto’s Unconquered Challenge
In the history of the Champions League, FC Barcelona holds a unique status for FC Porto. Porto has faced six Liga teams in the competition, but Barcelona is the only one they have never managed to defeat. This intriguing stat adds an extra layer of motivation for both sides as they prepare to renew their rivalry on the European stage.
Key Player Milestone: João Félix’s Scoring Opportunity
João Félix, a pivotal player for FC Barcelona, has an opportunity to make history. If he scores in this match, he will become just the fourth Barcelona player to score in his first two UEFA Champions League matches for the team. Joining the ranks of Luis Enrique, Deco, and David Villa, João Félix aims to leave his mark on the club’s European campaign.
Xavi’s Confidence and João Félix’s Caution
In his pre-game press conference, FC Barcelona’s head coach, Xavi, expressed confidence, stating, “This is the Champions League, and we are ready.” His words echo those of João Félix, who also emphasized the threat posed by FC Porto in Group H. Both teams are aware of the significance of this match in their Champions League journey.
As FC Barcelona and FC Porto prepare to face off at the Estádio do Dragão, the stage is set for a thrilling encounter filled with history, rivalries, and the promise of a memorable Champions League clash. Football fans around the world eagerly await this showdown between two footballing giants. Read More