Champions League Preview and Picks: FC Porto vs. Chelsea
Breakdown and Best Bet for FC Porto-Chelsea
We resume the Champions League Quarterfinals Wednesday afternoon as Chelsea head away to Seville, Spain to take on underdog Porto and PSG head to Munich to take on Bayern. I think these could be potentially lower scoring than today’s matches but should still be very competitive.
FC Porto vs. Chelsea
Chelsea travel to the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium in Seville, Spain to face off against Porto FC. Both clubs have strong defenses, so this could be a bit cagey and tight for most of the match.
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The Portuguese club are in strong form coming into this matchup. After advancing past Juventus on away goals (4-4 aggregate), they have since won three straight in Primeira Liga. There is some significant team news I need to mention. Porto will be without Sergio Oliveira, who was responsible for both away goals in Turin. The star midfielder leads the team in goals with 12 across 23 starts. He is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
They will also be without attacker Mehdi Taremi, as he picked up a red card in the 2nd leg against Juventus. He is 2nd on the team in goals, with 10 across 18 starts. So, while the form domestically and the upset over Juventus are impressive, they could pack a weaker punch than they have recently.
I also do have to pour some water on the Juventus result for two reasons. The first being the tie ended 4-4 on aggregate, but Juventus won the matchup on expected goals (3.8-2.7). Not to mention one goal was a bogus penalty and another includes Bentancur gifting Porto a goal. All in all, Juventus made some head scratching decisions that made life far easier on Porto than should have been the case.
On top of that, Juventus are just in poor form (1-1-1) since their Champions League exit. A shocking 1-0 loss to Benevento and a 2-2 draw to Torino (15th and 17th in Serie A respectively) are just a few more horrible results for the boys from Turin. I’m just not sure Porto deserve very much credit for the upset.
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Team news for Chelsea is far more straightforward for the Blues. It looks like N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic will be in the squad but will not start. They should have Thiago Silva back in defense. Tuchel will likely start Kovacic and Jorginho in the midfield, which is a quality pairing. Reece James and Marcos Alonso will continue to be the wingbacks that are used, which has worked fairly well for Tuchel. Prior to this past Saturday,
Chelsea’s form had been incredibly strong (undefeated in the EPL & UCL). The 5-2 loss to West Brom was unacceptable and embarrassing. However, Chelsea won on expected goals 2.56-1.38, and that is down a man for 60+ minutes. I think jumping ship would be an overreaction. They gave up 1.38 xG in the game. I just think West Brom were incredibly clinical and I’m not overreacting to one result.
Coming into the Round of 16, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid were close to a pick ‘em and I think many favored Atleti and Diego Simeone as a slight dog. I did like Chelsea to advance but thought it would be very tight and difficult. The 3-0 aggregate score line that resulted across two legs surprised me. It’s one thing to have a strong record against a so-so EPL schedule, but to knock out Atleti in that fashion was impressive (2.3-1.1 xG across two legs).
If we throw out the West Brom result, Tuchel’s Chelsea had conceded two goals over 14 games (0.43 xGA/game). I do think Chelsea should be large favorites to advance and have a good shot at making the final. The Blues are the 2nd best team in the EPL, boasting a +20.83 NPxGD, and I expect them to win convincingly over the Portuguese side.
My favorite bet here is Chelsea ML -129. Far superior side against a team that will be without their two biggest goal scorers. Home field advantage is negated with no fans, and Tuchel will want a strong bounce back after the West Brom debacle. I also like the Blues to keep a clean sheet at +102 for a smaller bet.