FC PORTO VS PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
VENUE: ESTADIO DO DRAGAO
DATE: 3RD OCTOBER 2012
KICK-OFF: 19:45 (GMT)
Paris Saint-Germain are in Portugal at the moment gearing up for our first away fixture in the UEFA Champions League against FC Porto.
The clash with the Portuguese champions is an intriguing one to say the least. The Dragon’s form this season bears a striking resemblance to that of our own. We both sit second in our respective leagues, currently unbeaten, scored a hatful of goals and both opened our UCL campaigns with a victory two weeks ago.
The two-time European Cup winners pose as a major test for Carlo Ancelotti’s men. The Estadio do Dragao is an intimidating setting when its supporters are in full voice and it should be no different come tomorrow night. Their players are no shrinking violets either and they possess a wealth of quality in their ranks. This is all despite losing their talisman up-front Hulk to Russian club Zenit St Petersburg for a mammoth €60m at the end of August.
Filling the void is Colombian Jackson Martinez. He arrived at the club in the summer for €8.8m from Mexican side Jaguares, and has netted four times in the process. He will be accompanied in the final third by his compatriot James Rodriguez on the left-hand side and Silvestre Varela on the opposite. Both possess pace and technical qualities that will give the PSG full-backs food for thought. Joao Moutinho with be accompanied in a midfield trio containing former Marseille man Lucho Gonzalez and Belgian international Steven Defour. Much like our own midfield, theirs is very assured and effective. Moutinho in particular is a fabulous football and a lot of the play will be orchestrated by him.
Their quality is there for all to see and it will require a huge effort to leave the north of Portugal with all three points. Nevertheless, just as aware as we are of their talent, they will be thinking the same with ours. The weekend win over Sochaux was another efficient display with Kevin Gameiro firing himself right back into Carlo Ancelotti’s thinking. The problem for him is however is that Carlo very rarely starts with two strikers up front in a European tie away from home. He may find himself back on the bench from the beginning as Zlatan Ibrahimovic most definitely leads the line, supported by the traditional two wingers.
Ezequiel Lavezzi is back in contention after his injury and is in the squad, so it will be interesting to see if Ancelotti opts to utilise him in one of the two wide areas. At the moment, second guessing his team is proving to be tricky as we have yet to see how he sets up a PSG-XI away from home in Europe.
It is a good opportunity for either club to really get afoot hold in the group. Victory for either will put them in pole position for qualification, giving Dinamo Zagreb and Dynamo Kiev hope of trumping the other. Regardless, it has been eight long years since we had the pleasure of playing one of these glamour fixtures away from the Parc des Princes and it is one we should revel in.
The last time we met Porto in this competition was in 2004. Porto were the European Champions at the time thanks to the guidance of Jose Mourinho the season before.