Earning two-goal win at Juve will be tall order for Porto

MILAN • Porto must follow in Barcelona's footsteps and achieve a Champions League first today if they are to overcome Juventus and reach the quarter-finals.

The Portuguese league leaders will have to claw their way back from a 2-0 home defeat in the first leg, something which has never been done in the knockout stage since Europe's top football club competition was reformed in 1992.

Only two sides have even managed to overcome a single-goal deficit away from home in the last 25 years - Ajax against Panathinaikos in the 1995-96 semi-finals and Inter Milan against Bayern Munich in the round of 16 in 2010-11.

Juve's recent home record makes the task even more daunting.

The Italian Serie A title holders have not lost in their own stadium since their 1-0 defeat by Udinese in August 2015, a run of 45 games in all competitions.

  • 2

  • Number of sides in the Champions League who have managed to win on aggregate after losing the first leg at home. Porto will attempt to join their ranks when they travel to take on Italian champions Juventus.

In European competition, they are unbeaten in their last 20 home games since losing 0-2 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in April 2013.

Porto, who have won their last nine league games and not conceded a goal in their last five, will not go quietly, however.

"We know it's going to be difficult for us after the result in the first leg. But a lot of things happen in football - we've seen it all," said goalkeeper Iker Casillas on Facebook.

The Spain veteran was almost certainly referring to Barcelona's remarkable achievement last week when they recovered from a 4-0 first-leg defeat to beat Paris St-Germain 6-1 at the Nou Camp.

But the Portuguese league leaders could also look nearer to home for inspiration, having themselves won 3-0 away to Roma at the start of this season.

That win, just their fourth in 13 visits to Italy, took them into the Champions League group stage against the odds after Roma had held them to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the play-off.

It remains to be seen how Porto coach Nuno Espirito Santo, a firm believer in the idea that a team is built from the back, will approach a game where his side will need to take the initiative.

"Our basis principle is defensive solidarity," he said after the 4-0 Primeira Liga win at Arouca on Friday. "Everyone has to defend, from the centre-forward to the goalkeeper, so that we can get convincing wins. It demands a lot of work and a lot of concentration."

REUTERS

JUVENTUS V PORTO

Singtel TV Ch111 & StarHub Ch202, tomorrow, 3.40am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2017, with the headline 'Earning two-goal win at Juve will be tall order for Porto'. Print Edition | Subscribe