Two sides still searching for their first wins of the 2021-22 Champions League prepare for battle at the Estadio do Dragao on Tuesday, as Porto face off against AC Milan in Group B.
Sergio Conceicao’s side were blown away by Liverpool 5-1 last time out, while the Rossoneri suffered an agonising last-minute defeat to Atletico Madrid.
Porto vs. Liverpool at the Estadio do Dragao now appears to be a foregone conclusion before the first whistle blows, as the Reds followed up their previous thrashings in Portugal with another five-star performance on matchday two.
Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino bagged braces while Sadio Mane also got in on the act in a 5-1 win, with Mehdi Taremi’s header proving to be nothing more than a mere consolation as Porto sit third in the Group B rankings with one point from two games.
The Primeira Liga giants were at least on the correct end of a five-goal scoreline in their most recent game, though, as they thrashed Sport Uniao Sintrense 5-0 in the Taca de Portugal after claiming a 2-1 win over Pacos Ferreira in league action just before the international break.
Usurping one of Liverpool or Atletico to one of the top two spots in Group B now appears to be a tall order for Porto, who must immediately turn their fortunes around if they are to avoid exiting at the group stage for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
Defeat to Liverpool represents the hosts’ only home defeat from their last nine at the Estadio do Dragao, though – with Conceicao’s side winning the other eight encounters – and their opponents have hardly made the ideal start to life back in the big time.
Rafael Leao may have drawn first blood for AC Milan against Atletico Madrid, but the Rossoneri smiles turned to frowns nine minutes later following Franck Kessie’s dismissal, and Stefano Pioli’s side were fighting an uphill battle from there against the Spanish champions.
It took until the 84th minute for Atletico to claw their way back into the game as Antoine Griezmann netted the equaliser, and just when Milan appeared to hang on for a point, Luis Suarez tucked away a penalty in the seventh minute of injury time following Pierre Kalulu’s handball.
Despite being forced to work around a raft of absentees and having to fight back from 2-0 down against Hellas Verona at the weekend, the Rossoneri ultimately came out on top in a 3-2 thriller, with Koray Gunter’s own goal deciding the contest after Kessie and Olivier Giroud restored parity for Milan.
It was hardly a vintage performance from Pioli’s men, but a fourth win from five in all competitions has helped them to maintain a near-perfect start to domestic proceedings, and not since 2012 have the Rossoneri suffered two consecutive European defeats away from home.
Tuesday’s game marks the first encounter between Porto and Milan since the Italian giants won the 2003 European Super Cup, and Porto boss Conceicao featured in the sides’ most recent group-stage battles, with Porto winning 3-2 before a 1-1 draw in the 1996-97 tournament.
Porto Champions League form:
Porto form (all competitions):
AC Milan Champions League form:
AC Milan form (all competitions):
We say: Porto 1-1 AC Milan
Porto will certainly sense an opportunity to get one over the Rossoneri given their injury crisis, and Conceicao’s side held their own against Atletico before being blown away by Liverpool.
Milan’s Champions League campaign is at risk of ending before it has even begun, but we still expect an injury-hit Rossoneri – on a high from their dramatic win over Verona – to do enough to come away with a point from the Estadio do Dragao.