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Spanish forward Toni Martinez will be hoping to replicate his Primeira Liga form in the Champions League
Spanish forward Toni Martinez will be hoping to replicate his Primeira Liga form in the Champions League

Porto’s Champions League place was secured thanks to their second-place finish in the Primeira Liga last campaign.

Unable to retain their 2019-20 crown, they fell five points short of eventual champions Sporting.

This was despite earning 80 points — just two shy of the figure amassed during their title-winning season.

A one-week stay in top spot after Matchday 2 was the best it got for the Dragons, who sat in second for 21 of the 34 rounds.

They will look back on their games against Sporting with frustration, after both ended in draws — 2-2 away and 0-0 at home.

Porto's Champions League group

Group B: Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, FC Porto, AC Milan

European history

The only Portuguese club to have won the Champions League this century, Porto have quite the record when it comes to continental competition.

Jose Mourinho’s iconic side of the early 2000s backed up their 2003 UEFA Cup success by winning Europe’s biggest prize just 12 months later.

Dubbed “the final of the underdogs”, Porto were comfortable 3-0 winners against Monaco in Gelsenkirchen.

Mourinho would leave for his first spell at Chelsea weeks after that match and that legendary team was picked apart, with Deco, Ricardo Carvalho and Pedro Mendes all departing.

This was their second European Cup success, having previously won the competition in 1987 under Artur Jorge’s tutelage.

More recently, Porto were crowned 2011 Europa League champions when Radamel Falcao scored the Dublin final’s only goal against fellow Portuguese outfit Braga.

Porto had a largely successful domestic campaign, but could not surpass Sporting in the final standings
Porto had a largely successful domestic campaign, but could not surpass Sporting in the final standings

Expectations

Having made it to the quarter-finals twice in the last three seasons, hopes would have been high that Porto can reach this stage once again.

An enthralling round of 16 tie against Juventus finished 4-4 after extra-time, but the Dragons progressed thanks to the now scrapped away goals rule.

Eventual winners Chelsea ended any further Porto progress with a 2-1 aggregate victory, but they did not go down without a fight, winning the second leg 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.

The arrivals of Pepe from Gremio and Wendell from Bayer Leverkusen have no doubt strengthened their left flank but a nightmare draw means even finishing thrird to secure Europa League football will be a challenge.

Star man: Jesus Corona

Jesus Corona has been a menace on the right wing for Porto ever since joining in 2015
Jesus Corona has been a menace on the right wing for Porto ever since joining in 2015

Porto winger Jesus Corona is now entering his seventh season at ​​Estadio do Dragao and he continues to play a key role in his side’s attack.

He registered eight assists and chipped in with two goals in the Primeira Liga last term, as well as setting up another two goals in the Champions League.

Corona, 28, has always been a handful to defend against and will be looking to bamboozle defences once again when the group stage gets underway.

One to watch: Pepe

The always influential Pepe has mellowed somewhat in the latter stages of his playing career
The always influential Pepe has mellowed somewhat in the latter stages of his playing career

When he is on the pitch, it is usually pretty hard to take your eyes off Pepe.

The 38-year-old is still very much the unpredictable centre-half he was at Real Madrid, and at Porto before that.

Although now at the tail end of his career, he is showing few signs of slowing down — making 27 league appearances last season, plus a further six in the Champions League.

As Porto’s club captain, do not always expect him to lead by example but be certain that he will rally his colleagues and make them the toughest of opponents against some of Europe’s elite.

The boss: Sergio Conceicao

Former player Sergio Conceicao took over from one-time Porto team-mate and current Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo in the summer of 2017.

Conceicao, 46, had two spells with the Dragons and picked up three Primeira Liga titles as a player, a feat he is currently one short of as a manager.

A playing career that took him from his Portuguese homeland to Italy with Lazio, Parma and Inter Milan, saw him also ply his trade in Belgium, Kuwait and Greece.

The winger’s first steps into management led him back to a former club, Standard Liege, where he took on the role of assistant in 2010.

After then working his way up the Portuguese league system in a variety of managerial positions, he spent six months at Nantes before quitting in favour of a return to the Estadio do Dragao.

With two league titles, two Champions League quarter-finals and one Taca de Portugal at Porto, Conceicao has had plenty of success during his time in charge.

But there is no doubt that he will be keen to shock a few more of the continent’s big boys in the Champions League this season.

All information correct as of 10am, September 7, 2021

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