After four painful years of waiting, FC Porto finally reclaimed the Primeira Liga title, in turn securing automatic qualification into the 2018/19 Champions League.
It has been a strange summer for the 03/04 winners. At times, it looked like the core of the squad would be torn apart, but after interest from England cooled off, the impressive group of Felipe, Danilo Periera, Alex Telles, Iker Casillas, Yacine Brahimi and Moussa Marega all remain at the Dragão.
Manager Sérgio Conceição still divides opinions between fans, with some Portista’s feeling his system holds back the play of the play of talents such as Óliver Torres who’s been anything but prominent under Conceição’s regime. However, the bulk of the fan base understandably overlooks these issues as his tactics have proven they can provide the right results on the pitch after years of waiting.
Porto’s main threat lays on the wings with the dynamic Yacine Brahimi always being a threat. The Algerian will be sure to impress in what may well be his final season in blue and white. On the other side, Moussa Marega will be looking to put a summer of uncertainty behind him and pick up where he left off last season, pulverising defences with pace and power.
Marius (Cotonsport), Jorge (Monaco), Riechedly Bazoer (Wolfsburg), Saidy Janko (Saint-Etienne), João Pedro (Palmeiras), Eder Militão (Sao Paulo), Chancel Mbemba (Newcastle)
Saidy Janko (Nottingham Forest) yes… already, I know, Majeed Waris (FC Lorient), Paulinho (Portimonense), Ricardo Pereira (Leicester), Yordan Osorio (Tondela), Ewerton (Portimonense), Galeno (Portimonense), Miguel Layun (Sevilla), Kelvin (Vaso De Gama)
What to expect from FC Porto in the group stage:
Many dubbed this Group D to be the caliber of a Europa League group. Personally, I feel it’s the most exciting group of them all due to the unpredictable nature of each game. Lokomotiv Moscow will prove a tough place to visit away but I expect Porto to take 4 out of a possible 6 points from Krasno-zelyonyye. Galatasaray ultras and FC Porto’s ultras are set to produce an incredible atmosphere, but I see the quality of Porto’s side shining through here and taking 6/6 points with Galatasaray’s squad being weaker than previous seasons. Finally it leaves us with arguably the group favourites, FC Schalke 04, with an incredibly strong squad and a stellar system in place. I see Porto and Schalke progressing to the knockouts with each side sharing a win each in the ties.
Players to watch:
Alex Telles: Destined to take over Marcelo’s throne, the left back provides goals, assists, take ons and an incredible defensive mindset in one package. Criminally underrated by many, he’s set to take the Champions League by storm this season.
Yacine Brahimi: With one year left on his current deal, Liga NOS’ best player by a country mile will be looking to leave a lasting memory in Portistas’ minds with him tearing up defences left and right for one last season in white and blue.
Danilo Pereira: After a season on the sidelines, Danilo will be looking to put a stamp down and prove once again why he should be Portugal’s starting DM. Providing a surprising amount of attacking input as well as covering the backline exceptionally well.
Óliver Torres: In an alternative world, Óli would be Spain’s leading playmaker and shining week in, week out. His career at Porto has been strange; in his first season on loan, he set the league alight. Since then, he’s been under managers and systems which alienate his style completely. However, IF he can find his form, then the entire world will know about it. He is an incredible playmaker on his day, and I and every other Portista will hope to see it this season.
By: Ellis Platten