FC Porto will be hoping to close the gap to the top of the table when they take on Nacional at Estadio da Madeira on Saturday.
Following their elimination from the UEFA Champions League at the hands of Chelsea, FC Porto will hope to shift their attention back to the domestic league as they travel to Funchal to face Nacional on Saturday.
Although the Dragons are trailing league leaders Sporting CP by a significant six points heading into this game, there is still hope for a late comeback as their opponents have failed to win in their last two league outings.
It has already helped them make up four points, so it will be critical for the Portuguese giants to maintain the pressure as we head towards the final stretch of the campaign.
In Nacional, Porto face the worst performing team in Liga NOS this season, with the Funchal-based outfit registering a total of just 21 points so far. They have also lost their last eight matches in the league, conceding five goals in each of their last two defeats against Portimonense and Santa Clara respectively.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this David vs Goliath match-up at Estadio da Madeira this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
Goalscoring has been a problem for Nacional this season, but in recent weeks, it is the defence that has let them down. New coach Manuel Machado, who has operated with a 4-1-4-1 setup has struggled to spark any hopes for the side and the club’s main priority this weekend will be to avoid any further humiliation.
Therefore, the emphasis will be on defensive solidity, with the coach likely to recall defender Julio Cesar at the heart of the four-man backline alongside Pedrao. Lucas Kal and Kalindi could continue as full-backs, as usual, although both of them will brace themselves for more defensive roles.
Nuno Borges will screen the backline as the lone holding midfielder, with additional support from Vladan Danilovic and Ruben Micael, who is likely to replace youngster Mabrouk Rouai.
Moving forward, Nacional will be relying on the services of star striker Brayan Riascos to provide productivity in front of goal, although the Colombian will be hoping for adequate support from the likes of Joao Camacho and Kenji Gorre, from the wider areas of the pitch.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Antonio Filipe; Kalindi, Cesar, Pedrao, Lucas Kal; Borges; Camacho, Danilovic, Micael, Gorre; Riascos
FC Porto coach Sergio Conceicao has some important decisions to make in regards to his team selection. Now with no added prospect of being in the Champions League, the Portuguese tactician is expected to revert to his strongest possible lineup, although there might still be some fatigue issues as they are coming on the back of a tough encounter against Chelsea.
— FC Porto (@FCPorto) April 15, 2021
Nevertheless, we are expecting a few changes from the side that faced Tondela in the last league match. Especially in attack, Conceicao might opt to start both of his key strikers in Mehdi Taremi and Moussa Marega, operating in a flat 4-4-2 setup that will look to cause problems for the vulnerable Nacional backline.
Elsewhere in attack, wingers Jesus Corona and Otavio will be in charge of the club’s creative department while the midfield duo of Mateus Uribe and Sergio Oliveira are set to be tasked with the responsibility of helping Porto maintain control of their game by providing the assurance in possession.
Defensively, Conceicao is unlikely to make any changes to the backline that started against Chelsea, with Chancel Mbemba set to get the nod ahead of Diego Leite at the heart of the four-man backline.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Marchesin; Manafa, Mbemba, Pepe, Sanusi; Corona, Uribe, Oliveira, Otavio; Marega, Taremi
- FC Porto are the most in-form team in LIGA Nos, having won all of their last six league matches.
- CD Nacional are the most out of form team in LIGA Nos, as they have faced straight defeats in all of their last eight league matches.
- Having scored 55 goals in just 26 league matches, FC Porto boast the best attacking record in the Portuguese top-flight this season.
- FC Porto and CD Nacional have met twice this season (Liga Nos, Taca de Portugal), with the Dragons appearing victorious on both occasions.
- Two back to back 5-1 defeats now sees Nacional boast the worst defensive record in the league, conceding 44 goals in 26 matches.
Player to Watch
WHAT. A. GOAL! ?
Mehdi Taremi that is so so good!!! ? pic.twitter.com/a72wY4p7pN
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 13, 2021
Mehdi Taremi was the hero of Porto’s Champions League campaign that saw them reach the quarterfinal this season. He was also on the scoresheet in the recent win over Chelsea, netting a brilliant overhead kick in the final minute of the game. Unfortunately, it was too little too late for the Portuguese side, who were unable to recover from their two goal deficit against the Blues.
This weekend, however, Porto will once again unleash Taremi, alongside Marega as the duo looks to cause problems for Nacional. The 28-year-old has been already involved in a total of 20 goals in Liga NOS this season and that record is bound to improve against the bottom club on Saturday.
Nacional 0-4 FC Porto
FC Porto are the undisputed favourites to seal all three points as Sergio Conceicao’s men have the quality as well as the form heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures. Nacional, in contrast, have looked all over the place throughout the season and it could turn out to be yet another humiliation for the hosts this weekend.