FC Porto’s Impressive Season

Ismail Ansar

FC Porto’s Impressive Season

Porto are rapidly closing in on what would be their 30th domestic league title, with just three games of the season left to play.

Their opponents in those games are Vizela, Benfica and Estoril, and a win in these games coupled with poor results from 2nd-placed Sporting Lisbon will ensure Sergio Conceicao’s side lift the title. And what a stage it could be, with the opportunity to lift the title at their home ground in front of their fans with wins against Vizela or Estoril, or even more enticingly, they could win the title at the home of their rivals and title-challengers Benfica.

Alongside this, they are also in the final of the Taca de Portugal which takes place on the 22nd of May, where they will play Tondela. They made it through to the final at the expense of Sporting Lisbon, whom they defeated 3-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals.

It is looking likely that the Dragoes will end this season with two trophies to add to their already bulging trophy cabinet, and here we take a look at how they’ve done it…

Before diving into the personnel who have played so well for Porto this season, let’s first take a closer look at the numbers behind their stunning season.

Porto have so far played 31 of 34 matches in the Primeira Liga, in which they have won 26 of those 31. They have been in first place since matchday 10 in October when they beat Boavista 4-1, and no one has been able to catch up to them yet.

That Boavista game was the fifth of what would go on to be a 16 consecutive game-winning streak for Porto, where they scored 45 goals and conceded only 11. They have drawn four times, two of which were against second-place Sporting Lisbon, and the other two surprise draws came against Maritimo and Gil Vicente. In these four draws, they scored 5 and also conceded 5, underlining their ability to match their opponents even when they are not having their best day.

Their only loss in the league so far this season was in their most recent match against perennial 4th-placed side Braga, who triumphed over the champions-elect 1-0.

In the Taca de Portugal, they have won every game, scoring two goals or more in every game against Sintrense, Feirense, Benfica and Vizela. After beating all these sides, they were rewarded with a semi-final clash against Sporting Lisbon. Porto edged out a frustrated Lisbon 3-1 over two legs. The result left Sporting ruing their chance at winning more silverware this season after already winning the Taca da Liga in January, and also the fact that Porto could now potentially beat them to two other trophies this season that they were close to winning.

Porto’s Personnel

The main reason that the Portuguese club has been in such fantastic form is due to their talented squad – they have many players who are very capable in their respective positions.

Young goalkeeper Diogo Costa has started 41 games this season and has been a relatively reliable presence. Club legend Pepe, although having lost a yard of pace at the age of 39, is still a reliable servant, with his many years of experience and defensive nous a valuable asset, as are his leadership skills in guiding many of this squad to a league title. He has often been partnered with former Newcastle centre-back Chancel Mbemba. Flanking them are full-backs Joao Mario and the pacy Brazilian Wendell, who offer defensive stability and attacking threat respectively.

In midfield, Marko Grujic and Mateus Uribe have shared the defensive responsibilities, with Vitinha and Fabio Vieira helping in keeping possession and fashioning goalscoring chances from midfield. Vieira has contributed 13 assists this season.

Porto also have had plenty of threat on the flanks, possessing dangerous wide players such as Otavio, Luis Diaz and Brazilian winger Pepe. Otavio has assisted a teammate 11 times and has managed to create 47 chances this season, whilst Diaz has scored over 10 goals.

Upfront they possess some tricky and clinical forwards, with Mehdi Taremi, Toni Martinez and Evanilson all contributing goals this season. Iranian Taremi is the club’s top scorer with 18 in 29 league appearances, whilst Evanilson has bagged 13 in 27. Diaz also contributed an important 14 goals before he left for Liverpool for €45m in January.

Despite losing some key players in the summer and in January, Porto have done well to carry on competing without them. Midfield rock Danilo Pereira left for PSG and striker Moussa Marega left for Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia, and wingers Jesus Corona and Diaz left for Sevilla and Liverpool respectively in the January window. But the club have brought in replacements – midfielders Marko Grujic and Bruno Costa were bought in to replace Pereira and to add depth to the squad, and both have made over 10 appearances in the league this season, showing how they are now trusted by the manager.

Porto also bought three Brazilian players, with Wendell and Pepe joining in the summer of 2021, and Galeno who joined from Braga in January, all for a combined €28m. The three have gone on to play regularly this season, all making at least 10 league appearances, with Pepe on 25 appearances and Wendell on 18. With the growing attention on Diaz, Porto did well to buy a replacement so soon – they have bought well and prepared for if any of their established players left, as their replacements have slotted in well at their new club.

Sergio Conceicao’s Management

With a rundown of who has helped the club the most this season, manager Sergio Conceicao can not be left out. It is his tactics and system that has allowed his players to play such a style of football and score so many goals. He has done well in bedding in new signings and integrating young players into the first-team set-up, including his own son Francisco!

With the league title effectively sewn up and a cup final to come soon, Conceicao will be looking to add to the two league titles and one Taca de Portugal he has already won at the club. With these trophies, Conceicao is making a name for himself in Europe. And pretty soon, he may well join a Premier League side or another big side in Europe’s top five leagues if he carries on with the impressive job he is doing.


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