With one foot firmly in the semi-finals of the Champions League, Chelsea once again travel to Seville for the ‘home’ leg of their Champions League quarter-final showdown with Porto on Tuesday night.
Goals from Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell propelled the Blues to a comfortable 2-0 win in the first meeting, and once again, the Portuguese champions have been left with a mountain to climb to salvage their European season.
Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell celebrates scoring against Porto on April 7, 2021
Mount’s first Champions League goal – and a stunning one at that – set the tone for the first leg early on, as the England international beautifully spun away from Zaidu Sanusi before unleashing a powerful effort into the bottom corner with 32 minutes on the clock in the first leg.
Ben Chilwell capped off a disciplined performance from Thomas Tuchel’s side with the game’s second goal after an error from Jesus Corona, and Chelsea are firmly in control of the tie before this week’s second leg, and they have progressed eight times from the last 10 occasions when they have won the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie.
A resounding win over the Portuguese powerhouses was the perfect response to their thrashing at the hands of West Bromwich Albion, and Chelsea also returned to winning ways in the Premier League in emphatic fashion at the weekend, as Kai Havertz inspired the Blues to a 4-1 derby victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday evening.
Having now kept three clean sheets in a row in the Champions League, defence may be the best form of attack for Tuchel as he aims to seal progress into the last four of Europe’s elite competition – where Chelsea have not appeared since the 2013-14 season – and the Blues are also unbeaten in nine in the Champions League since their crushing last-16 exit to Bayern Munich last year.
Chelsea have never managed to win three European matches in a row on Spanish soil, but Tuchel’s impressive squad depth, commitment to defending and empty medical room is the perfect recipe for success against Porto, who must take inspiration from Sam Allardyce’s West Brom if they are to somehow dump the Blues out of the competition.
Porto coach Sergio Conceicao pictured on April 7, 2021
Close but no cigar has been the theme of Porto’s Champions League endeavours in recent years, as the Portuguese giants have never managed to advance past the quarter-final stage of the tournament since their triumphant venture in the 2003-04 campaign.
While their historic last-16 victory over Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus cannot be overlooked, Sergio Conceicao’s side must score at least twice against Tuchel’s resilient Blues to stand a chance of turning the tie around in Seville, although they managed to do exactly that against Tondela at the weekend in a 2-0 league triumph.
Mehdi Taremi and Toni Martinez got the goals which set Porto on their way to a fifth league triumph on the bounce, although they remain five points behind runaway leaders Sporting Lisbon, and Os Dragoes could be forced to endure a season without Champions League football if Benfica manage to usurp them in the coming weeks.
Furthermore, Porto have only managed to prevail in one of their 20 Champions League knockout ties away from home, although that statistic is not entirely applicable in COVID times, and their record against English sides makes for bleak reading too, as they have lost five and drawn two of their last seven against such teams.
Chelsea’s 2-0 win in the first leg represented their sixth triumph from nine meetings with Porto, and while the Portuguese side managed to beat the Blues 2-1 as recently as 2015, they have never managed to keep a clean sheet against their upcoming opponents.
Chelsea Champions League form:
Chelsea form (all competitions):
Porto Champions League form:
Porto form (all competitions):
Article continues after the advert
Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma celebrates scoring their third goal against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on April 10, 2021
Chelsea are blessed with a fully-fit squad for the second leg this week, and the well-rested Thiago Silva could earn an immediate recall to the rearguard after serving a domestic suspension against Crystal Palace.
With Manchester City to come in the FA Cup, Tuchel is sure to rotate his resources once again, as a reshuffle in attack could see Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and perhaps even Olivier Giroud earn starts for the second leg.
N’Golo Kante has shaken off a hamstring injury and is also in contention to feature from the first whistle this week, while Edouard Mendy will hope to match Fabien Barthez’s record of winning eight consecutive Champions League matches – the current highest tally for an English club’s shot-stopper.
Porto will welcome both Taremi and 19-goal midfielder Sergio Oliveira back to the squad after the two players served suspensions in the first leg, and both should earn starting roles here after coming off the bench against Tondela, although Oliveira will have to shake off a muscle problem.
As is the case with Chelsea, Porto have very few concerns on the injury front, with Diogo Costa, Ivan Marcano and Mouhamed Mbaye the only two players expected to miss out for the ‘away’ side.
Moussa Marega was an unused substitute at the weekend but is certainly expected to lead the line alongside Taremi this week, while Oliveira’s return could see Marko Grujic demoted to the bench.
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Christensen; James, Kovacic, Kante, Alonso; Ziyech, Mount; Giroud
Porto possible starting lineup:
Marchesin; Manafa, Mbemba, Pepe, Sanusi; Corona, Uribe, Oliveira, Otavio; Marega, Taremi